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Celestial Navigation: A Home Study Course Paperback – September 15, 2008


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Celestial Navigation: A Home Study Course + Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen + Davis Instruments Celestial Navigation Quick Reference Card
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Starpath Publications (September 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0914025015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0914025016
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.5 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Step by step approach to understanding and practicing Celestial Navigation, that I truly enjoyed studying." — G.D., Starpath online

"The course book and the supporting study materials were excellent and made it easy to understand and master the subject matter." — Bernd Ehrhardt, Starpath online

"This is fun. Well written text: easy to read! I'm learning. Thanks." — Tom Maloney

"I enjoy the course, and your text is among the best I've seen." — Bill Fallin

"Your books are well written. Clear for beginner sailors and a good review for advanced sailors. Great work!" — Myles Jans, Starpath online

"Your books are spectacular." — David O'Neal, Starpath Online

"Very well written and easily understandable. As a bonus, your book made me interested in astronomy." — Per Tumlin, Starpath online

"One of the other things I liked is the use of humor throughout the book. " — Trudy, Starpath online

From the Back Cover

Also  by David Burch

How to use Plastic Sextants -- with application to metal sextants and a review of sextant piloting


and

The Star Finder Book -- A guide to the many uses of the 2102-D Star Finder

More About the Author

David Burch is the author of 13 books on marine navigation and weather and the director of Starpath School of Navigation in Seattle, WA, which had more than 30,000 classroom students, before the school switched to exclusively online training. He has more than 70,000 miles of ocean experience ranging from the Arctic ice edge to Tahiti and Australia in the Pacific and from New York to Panama in the Atlantic. He has sailed across the Pacific to Hawaii ten times, three times winning the Victoria to Maui yacht race, and in 1984 setting the elapsed time record for that passage for vessels under 38 feet long (the record lasted 16 years).

In powerboats, he delivered a 65-foot fishing vessel from New York to Seattle, via Panama and has made numerous coastal deliveries between WA and CA, AK, and Mexico. He navigated the only American entry (72-foot Cassiopeia) in the storm-ridden '93 Sydney to Hobart yacht race and later navigated that vessel on the '96 Vic Maui and Swiftsure Lightship Classic when she won first overall in the latter.

His magazine articles have appeared in Cruising World, Ocean Navigator, Sailing, and Sea Kayaker. His column "Burch at the Helm" has appeared in Blue Water Sailing magazine since 2009. His textbooks and workbooks are used by numerous schools, nationwide.

His work has been recognized with the Institute of Navigation's Superior Achievement Award for outstanding performance as a practicing navigator, and by a USCG citation for his successful weather and vessel performance analysis used in a search and rescue operation. In February, 2011 he was awarded Fellow grade in the Institute of Navigation. In May of 2011 he named a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation in London.

From 2005 to 2010, he has served as the editor of the quarterly newsletter of the Foundation for the Promotion of the Art of Navigation.

David is the author and developer of several software training programs, including the Starpath Radar Trainer, the world's most popular PC radar simulator and Starpath Weather Trainer Live, both used by individuals and schools, in several countries.

On the academic side, he is a past Fulbright Scholar with a Ph.D. in physics.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ML on May 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book presents a very thorough and descriptive discussion of the practice of taking, reducing, and plotting celestial sights so that you can fix your location on the sea (with other topics as well). It is a very practical course and for that I recommend it. You WILL be able to navigate by the heavens when you are done (with some sextant practice). However, it is a bit light on theory and for some people, like me, if they don't understand at least the basics of the theory, then it's hard for them to connect with the practical applications. If you are the kind of person that has to know "why" something works before you can remember "how" to do it, then you need more than this book. I actually did read the neat little primer, Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen by Mary Blewitt before getting this course. Actually I read it twice because it's small, but the concepts are dense. It was an excellent preparation for this much more practical book on how to really use celestial navigation on a real ocean passage. If I hadn't read this first, I think I might have struggled with David Burch's book. Yet, if I had tried to actually practice celestial navigation armed only with Blewitt's book, I don't think I could have really done it either - it just doesn't provide enough detailed guidance. Burch's book anticipates all those little questions that a student would naturally have when he gets ready to actually take a sight and find a line of position. So, Burch's book is excellent, but get some kind of background in the geometic and mathematical theory first. Note: Starpath has on-line classes as well, and that may be where theory is explained, but the full program is much more expensive and this book is the foundation of the course, anyway.Read more ›
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All five are good, but only one really walks you through the actual steps, with examples, of cel nav. I wish I saw this book first. The beginning has just the right amount of theory, and then he jumps into the sextant, spending time on the vernier, actual old-school plotting, and then specific examples, ie., noon sighting, sun sighting, moon, and stars. Then there is a thick section of detailed "extra study" material, more or less like an appendix, filled with tips and tricks of all sorts. Finally, there is a glossary, examples, problems, answers, and copies of the forms he suggests you use from his firm. He even covers topics like "short dip" sightings, to use on a lake or land, when you are practicing and can't get out to blue water. This is critical for all us beginners....

I am sure that if you go through this book carefully, work the problems, and so on, and then set up your cel nav station, you will be able to do a pretty good job of cel nav from start to finish without so much as a pocket calculator or GPS: just his material, an Almanac or equivalent, a good watch, and a pencil, paper and some plotting tools.

I started with the e-book although another reviewer complained about the reproduction of the figures and the difficulty jumping around in the book while working the problems. Like the other reviewer of the ebook, I bought the actual book, and continue to study from the ebook when the regular book is not convenient.

If you only have $30 to spend on Cel Nav literature, skip the rest, although they are all good, and go straight to Burch. The ebook is a good add-on, but not easy to work in, secondary to inherent problems with ebooks. Burch has managed to put a whole bunch more into one easy book than anyone else has.

I "guarantee" you won't be disappointed.......

Amateur boater in Southern California
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. Andrew Thomas on August 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Burch takes you step by step through the fundamentals of beginning navigation in a clear understandable progression. I'll never have the opportunity to go to sea and navigate, but I do stand in the vast open remote areas of the west and watch the heavens turn with compass and sextant in hand. Great fun! I would recommend ' Celestial Navigation for the Clueless' as a companion book to work with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chris Moller on July 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is an outstanding practical guide to celestial navigation. Burch is a very good instructor. He has decided to focus on the "how" rather than the "why", even though as a physicist he could easily do the latter. This means you learn the exact steps to all the major activities of celestial navigation. The author provides clear examples and problems with detailed answers. He does touch on the key ideas of theory but in my opinion he is more interested in making sure the student can actually solve typical navigational problems of the type found underway. Finally a lengthy, in depth chapter is provided with many detailed points of practise that together are not found in any other text that I have seen. I strongly recommend this book to anyone wishing to learn celestial navigation
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By Rob Dros on August 28, 2014
Format: Paperback
As a professional Master Mariner ( ret) I won this book in a competition , the past decade I ploughed the oceans using GPS only, and the sextant remained locked away somewhere in the chart room, and I have to admit once I started reading the matter for curiosity sake it all came back ! In the 70's when I started my career it was in most cases the only option to determine the position apart from LORAN, DECCA or Radio Bearings, and a major Syllabus subject at the training colleges and Certificate examinations.

The book is comprehensive, however it misses the Why and How , for instance a LOP is only a very small straight line on the chart with an Azimuth direction towards / from the DR position towards the Geographical Position or the difference between the observed height and calculated height, it misses to say that the position on Earth can be any position on the circle with the GP as it' s Center, with two circles of 2 different Celestial bodies determining the Fix, however there are 2 possibilities , the one closest to the DR is the right one.

It also misses the fact, that when using HO 249 Sight Reduction tables , Vol 1, plots of GP for stars can be made in advance on the Plotting Sheets adjusted for Course / Speed , let's say 2 minute intervals for the dedicated Stars, saving heaps of time
afterwards, With the stars approx height and Azimuth to be identified immediately for taking sights,

One thing that should have been mentioned is the fact when taking a Sun sight, a positive fix of only one sight is when Ho is 90 degrees , the Declination is the Latitude and because the LOP is a part of a circle with The GP as it' Center , means that the GP is also the Fix or Position , we used to call this a 'Tropical Fix'.

It is a good book however it might be a bit difficult to comprehend for the novice sailor without the basic knowledge, as it focus's on the calculations only, have to admit that a mistake is easily identified .
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