The same techniques guided ancient Polynesians in the open Pacific and led Sir Ernest Shackleton to remote Antarctica, then oriented astronauts when the Apollo 12 was disabled by lightning, the techniques of celestial navigation.
A glimmer of the old lore has returned to the Naval Academy.
Officials reinstated brief lessons in celestial navigation this year, nearly two decades after the full class was determined outdated and cut from the curriculum.
That decision, in the late 1990s, made national news and caused a stir among the old guard of navigators.
Maritime nostalgia, however, isn't behind the return.
Rather, it's the escalating threat of cyber attacks that has led the Navy to dust off its tools to measure the angles of stars.
After all, you can't hack a sextant.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Correcting A Mistake
It was arrogant to get rid of celestial navigation in the first place, just as it would be arrogant for West Point to stop teaching land navigation with a compass and map. That mistake is now being corrected, if only partially: