Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts

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9781575240954: Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts
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This text focuses on the history of the development of hand-held celestial navigation instruments, offering descriptions of the tools used. It also includes a glossary of technical terms.

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From the Author:

[Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts] is written for anyone who has ever held a sextant in his or her hand, either on the water or in the air. My overt purpose is to record the history of the development of hand-held celestial navigation instruments, but I have also tried to convey some of the romance of these ingenious instruments that have taken sailors and aviators into the farthest reaches of the Earth and brought them safely home again. The challenge has been to bring something for everyone - from the rank beginner to the most experienced navigator, for the avid collector and for the expert historian and museum curator.

From the Inside Flap:

An early astrolabe, its name derived from Greek words for "star" (astron) and "to take" (lambanein), was an instrument which a navigator "took the stars" to determine a vessel's position in the great expanse of the sea. From the simple wooden kaml developed by ancient Arab mariners to the modern navigator's electronic global positioning system, Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts traces the long path of ingenious inventions developed for celestial navigation. Renowned collector Peter Ifland applies his talent for clear, engaging prose to describe the incremental improvements, world-changing advances, and well-intentioned failures that have marked the evolution of celestial navigation instruments for over 1,000 years.

Two panoramas converge in these lavishly illustrated pages. One is a parade of wonderful - and often, wonderfully clever - devices for celestial navigation: among others, the kaml, the cross-staff and back-staff, the astrolabe, and the marvelous variations on the divided celestial circle - the half-circle, quadrant, quintant, sextant, octant, and their kin. The other panorama is a carefully delineated roll-call of the great craftsmen and inventors of celestial navigation instruments - the likes of Thomas Godfrey, Captain John Davis, John Dollond, Edward Nairne, John Hadley, and Jesse Ramsden.

For the scholar, the collector, and the avid student of navigation methods and lore, Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts provides a wealth of carefully researched, accessible information. This exceptional volume offers: * An authoritative, yet informal writing style * Never-before-published photographs of instruments from private collections and the world's great maritime museums. * "How to" sidebars on the proper techniques for using various instruments discussed in the book * A chapter on the development of aircraft celestial navigation instruments, and how and why they differ from instruments used for marine navigation * A Glossary and a detailed Appendix providing specialized information for the serious navigator or scholar

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Ifland, Peter
Published by Krieger Pub Co (1998)
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