Celestial nav: Shooting or sighting?
Mar 4, 2016
by Tim Queeney
Is this a case of shooting or merely sighting?
The navigation problems that our contributing editor David Berson writes for each issue of Ocean Navigator are designed to mix a good sea story with some pencil work in reducing a sextant sight or two. David does a great job of finding compelling stories of actual events to accompany his nav problems. And as a story teller he uses dramatic language to engage readers.
Now, it appears, not every reader is so excited about Berson's language choices. David Thorne, who is a faculty member at the Nautical Institute of Nova Scotia Community College in Port Hawkesbury
, and who teaches celestial navigation among other marine technology courses, called our office to take issue with the phrase "shooting the sun" and "shooting a star." According to Thorne, this is a needless embellishment. The term is simply "taking a sight" Thorne said. There's no shooting involved. Even though I pointed out that "shooting the sun" was merely a colloquialism for taking a sight, Thorne stuck to his guns and would have none of it.
What do you think? Is "shooting the sun" or "shooting a star" misconstruing the true nature of the process or are they just harmless phrases that inject a bit of color?
The wider ramifications of the term "shooting the moon" are an entirely separate case, of course.