Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Celestial nav: Shooting or sighting?

Mar 4, 2016
Is this a case of shooting or merely sighting?

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.       
Edit Module

Old to new | New to old
Apr 16, 2016 09:30 pm
 Posted by  Kator


Well having spent over 150,000 Nautical Miles at sea in all the major Oceans of the World; under both steam, power and sail - I must say this is a " Boggy man " argument if I ever heard one! Also own and use my own Sexton to shoot fixes as needed!

This is a further example of Stupidity and Crass ignorance of the " politically incorrect " group of Liberal Socialist; who now way in on any trivial phrase or view that they disagree with! Their lack of reason and thinking encroaches upon insanity or just pure foolishness...

I served on 3 US Navy Destroyers as A Fire (Weapons) Control Technician and have been privy to shooting the Sun at high noon and stars as needed - this never had anything to do with firing any weapons!

How some yoyo could even come up with this argument is beyond me!

The question I would ask this Yoyo is what is the Big Problem?

The term of shooting course fixes has been around in the maritime vocabulary for hundreds of years...

" Get over it; ye who seek to exploit your foolishness with your course of total Stupidly! "

Do not come aboard any vessel I am on and start your total foolishness!


Being Ignorant and making stupid statements is one thing - but holding a degree and teaching in the area of the subject upon which the Stupid remarks is made on - is just a worthless example of oneself!

Apr 16, 2016 09:31 pm
 Posted by  Kator

same as above1

Apr 16, 2016 09:46 pm
 Posted by  Kator

a further note on the shooting of the Sun ETC...

*** A Sexton sighting is not just seeing an object - but rather taking a Navigational fix; under way is actually shooting - because it requires taking a target fix ... Just knowing the Sun is there is not enough; because it is necessary to make a target fix sighting to make the necessary calculation ... This should be crystal clear even to a land lubber!

Add your comment: