Why should anybody still practice celestial navigation in the era of electronics and GPS? One might as well ask why some photographers still develop black-and-white photos in their darkroom instead of using a digital camera. The answer would be the same: because it is a noble art, and because it is rewarding. No doubt, a GPS navigator is a powerful tool, but using it becomes routine very soon. In contrast, celestial navigation is an intellectual challenge. Finding your geographic position by means of astronomical observations requires knowledge, skillfulness, and critical judgement. In other words, you have to use your brains. Everyone who ever reduced a sight knows the thrill I am talking about. The way is the goal.

It took centuries and generations of navigators, astronomers, geographers, mathematicians, and instrument makers to develop the art and science of celestial navigation to its present level, and the knowledge thus accumulated is a treasure that should be preserved. Moreover, celestial navigation gives us an insight into scientific thinking and creativeness in the pre-electronic age. Last but not least, celestial navigation may be a highly appreciated alternative if a GPS receiver happens to fail.

Download pdfA Short Guide to Celestial Navigation5.16 MB