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Old 19-02-2014, 06:45   #1
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simple sextant book?

So I bought a sextant, just wondering what book is usefull to teach us the basics. I dont want to get too technical with it, maybe just learn to do a noon sight and estimate approximate positions, something with the moon too maybe. If we use it a bit I might get into some more technical sights but for now is there a basic book or 2 that I can use to estimate position and play around with it, without needing yearly data books or an accurate watch? The sextant is an ASTRA 111b
Thanks for any tips
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Old 19-02-2014, 06:51   #2
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Re: simple sextant book?

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Originally Posted by monte View Post
So I bought a sextant, just wondering what book is usefull to teach us the basics. I dont want to get too technical with it, maybe just learn to do a noon sight and estimate approximate positions, something with the moon too maybe. If we use it a bit I might get into some more technical sights but for now is there a basic book or 2 that I can use to estimate position and play around with it, without needing yearly data books or an accurate watch? The sextant is an ASTRA 111b
Thanks for any tips
Celestial Navigation by H.O. 249

Alamanc and Sight Reduction tables can be gotten on the net (use them there - big to download, although it can be done. Buy a cheap quartz watch - they're generally good enough, especially if you mark the time every day at noon for a couple of weeks, that will give you an exact number for how much time it loses per day.

Enjoy yourself. The Astra is a nice sextant and taking sights is fun (gives you some "wow" effect around your sailing friends)
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Old 19-02-2014, 07:55   #3
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Re: simple sextant book?

If you want the most simplest book to learn the basics, the one I have seen is the instruction book for the Davis Sextant. Although this sextant is nowhere near the quality of an Astra, the principals are the same.
Its a PDF document, I wont attach it for copywrite reasons, but if you do a google search for
Mark 3 Sextant Manual - Davis Instruments Corp

It will likely be top of the list
Good luck,,and enjoy the new toy
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Old 19-02-2014, 08:02   #4
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Re: simple sextant book?

Celestaire has a reference section on their website, which provides some very basic information.
Reference | Table

And a selection of links that are all related to furthering the art of celestial navigation.
Celestial Navigation
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Old 19-02-2014, 08:02   #5
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Re: simple sextant book?

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Originally Posted by nigel1 View Post
If you want the most simplest book to learn the basics, the one I have seen is the instruction book for the Davis Sextant. Although this sextant is nowhere near the quality of an Astra, the principals are the same.
Its a PDF document, I wont attach it for copywrite reasons, but if you do a google search for
Mark 3 Sextant Manual - Davis Instruments Corp

It will likely be top of the list
Good luck,,and enjoy the new toy
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Old 19-02-2014, 08:07   #6
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Re: simple sextant book?

Simple and sextant in the same sentence? Oh my.

We have one and have been hoping (for 10 years) to start using it.

Good luck and I'm glad you are digging in. Should be fun.
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Old 19-02-2014, 08:16   #7
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Re: simple sextant book?

Moon sites eh! During the old days those were more work, easier to do stars.
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Old 19-02-2014, 09:43   #8
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Re: simple sextant book?

Go to Google site navigationalalgorithms
Everything you need there, or dead tree version,ten easy steps to master celestial navigation by kittredge, again Google finds it. My honey sailed us around the world using that book and HO249, all available online now.
With Kittredge,
I have taught people to fix their position in an afternoon's time and couple of beers, no problem. Good luck, the gps satalite system is past it's use by date.....
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Old 19-02-2014, 10:31   #9
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Re: simple sextant book?

Celestial Navigation by Tom Cunliffe, good, but there was a description about first point of Aries that lost me. Took another book for that.

The Sextant Handbook by Bruce Bauer. Good for how to use a sextant, nothing on sight reduction

Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen by Mary Blewitt (Nov 1, 1994) is considered a classic, but I think there are better books now.

Practical Navigation by W. S. Kals written 40 years ago. The part on celestial navigation is good. The electronic navigation part is mostly obsolete. If you want it, go to alibris dot com

The American Practical Navigator: Bowditch Hardcover 2002. There is a commercial reprint dated 2011 (very small font and hard to read), but is really a reprint of the 2002 government publication

Dutton's Nautical Navigation by Thomas J. Cutler. Easier to read than Bowditch

Bowditch and Dutton's cover a considerable amount of material besides celestial navigation and I believe both volumes need to be in any nautical library.

Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation Pub. No. 249 (HO-249)- Epoch 2015

You can do noon sun sights without a watch and sun sights are the simplest. I have to agree that the Davis pamphlet I got with my new $80 plastic sextant is the best I have seen for short, clear, explanation of setting up the sextant and doing a sight. I was not impressed by the Davis one page summary you can buy separately on Amazon. You will need sight reduction tables. Get the Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation Pub. No. 249 (HO-249)- Epoch 2015, good until 2019, this is a government publication, but also available as a commercial reprint. It's not as accurate as the nautical sight reduction tables, but within 6 miles if I remember correctly, and a considerably smaller publication. It's what most boaters use. By the way, my quartz Timex gains one second per week, not bad for $35.
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Old 19-02-2014, 15:08   #10
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Re: simple sextant book?

Thanks for the input. I ordered Celestial Navigation by H.O. 249
downloaded the davis manual
downloaded Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation Pub. No. 249 (HO-249
I also have on pdf A Short Guide to
Celestial Navigation and celestial navigation in a teacup, so I guess I have enough for a start. Also some stuff on youtube seems pretty good. Will pull it out today and have a play with it :P I will print out the reduction tables.
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Old 19-02-2014, 16:03   #11
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Re: simple sextant book?

i'm guessing that most of the sextant books are out of print by now. i learned many years ago from a book by hewett schlereth, cant remember the name, and it included an 'eternal' table for sun sights which gave pretty good accuracy without using the big books like h.o. 249. never tried doing moon or stars.
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Old 19-02-2014, 19:42   #12
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Re: simple sextant book?

Quote:
Originally Posted by monte View Post
Thanks for the input. I ordered Celestial Navigation by H.O. 249
downloaded the davis manual
downloaded Sight Reduction Tables for Air Navigation Pub. No. 249 (HO-249
I also have on pdf A Short Guide to
Celestial Navigation and celestial navigation in a teacup, so I guess I have enough for a start. Also some stuff on youtube seems pretty good. Will pull it out today and have a play with it :P I will print out the reduction tables.
You've ordered my favorite and I buy a copy of the Nautical Almanac more often than I use the sextant so the advice to look it up on the internet is good advice for practicing while you are near shore.

Out in the ocean you'll need your own copy.
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Old 19-02-2014, 19:47   #13
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Re: simple sextant book?

I agree that a copy of Bowditch belongs in every navigators library.
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Old 20-02-2014, 08:26   #14
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Re: simple sextant book?

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
i'm guessing that most of the sextant books are out of print by now. i learned many years ago from a book by hewett schlereth, cant remember the name, and it included an 'eternal' table for sun sights which gave pretty good accuracy without using the big books like h.o. 249. never tried doing moon or stars.
correction. that 'eternal table' was for the sun and made it unnecessary to buy a new nautical almanac every year. it also had tables to allow you to reduce your own sight without h.o. 249 or h.o. 214, but it was somewhat complicated to use. with a modern scientific calculator it would have been easier.
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Old 20-02-2014, 10:25   #15
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Re: simple sextant book?

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Its a PDF document, I wont attach it for copywrite reasons...
Side note: You do not violate copyrights in any way by providing a link. Providing a link is, really, no different than giving someone the Dewey-Decimal numbers so that they can find a book in a library.

Copyright violation would be if you were to cut and paste the entire thing, or copy the PDF and store it here, so that those who are curious no longer have any need to go to the original source for the information.

...And now back to your regularly-scheduled program.
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