Learn to navigate by the sun & stars

Two nautical ship officers  use a sextant to “shoot” the sun’s morning altitude

The sun and stars have helped us determine our location since well before we had any accurate idea what they were. Especially useful for sailors on the open sea, where there are obviously no landmarks or roads, celestial navigation, usually aided by charts and instruments, can let you know where you are and where you’re going. It was a core (and demanding) course at the U.S. Naval Academy until the late ’90s. In that more techno-optimistic decade (well, more optimistic in every way), it was thought that reliable GPS had permanently replaced the need to mess about with Captain Cook-era technology. Less than 20 years later, noting the susceptibility of newer technologies to jamming and sabotage, to which the older methods were immune, the course was reinstated.

The Hudson River Maritime Museum will present a series of courses taught by celestial navigator Frank Reed. A nationally recognized expert, Reed has appeared on National Geographic’s StarTalk and is the main instructor of celestial navigation at Mystic Seaport, among many other accomplishments. On the weekend of March 9-10, Reed will teach “Easy Introductory Celestial Navigation.” General registration costs $225, $210 for members. On the weekend of April 13 and 14, Reed teaches “Modern Celestial Navigation: Practical Celestial Navigation for the 21st Century” for the same costs.



(Photo illustration by Will Dendis)


Celestial navigation

Mar. 16-17, Apr. 13-14

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Hudson River Maritime Museum

50 Rondout Landing, Kingston

(845) 338-0071