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Taking the Stars

Jan 1, 2003

Taking the StarsCelestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts

by Peter IflandBringing the stars down to the horizon with an ancient tool and reducing the subsequent findings through a bit of mathematical trickery to a position on Earth has been almost a mystical act for mariners. Peter Ifland's new book traces the history of celestial navigation, explaining how each culture used its respective instruments: sextants, octants, astrolabes, and cross staffs.

His book is a tremendous addition to nautical history since it documents the development of celestial navigation from the beginning. The experienced navigator will gain new insight and the novice will undoubtedly be awed by the beauty of the instruments and Ifland's lucid explanation of the process of navigating by the stars.

The book includes color photos of Ifland's vast collection of instruments, all of which have recently been donated to The Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Va.

Krieger Publishing and The Mariner's Museum, Newport News, Va.; 757-596-2222; 224 pages; $59.