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Celestial Navigation Online Study Course

Celestial Navigation Study Course


Self-study course covers all aspects of practical celestial navigation, starting from the very basic and ending with all you need to safely and efficiently navigate an open ocean passage.

SKU: SP-CELNAVCRS Category: Brands: .


Starpath Celestial Navigation Course

Celestial Navigation ClassIncludes a complete, self-contained homestudy course in printed materials, a complete electronic version of the entire course on a CD-ROM, extensive resources on the CD, as well as enrollment in the Starpath Online Celestial Navigation Course. With this combination you can choose the media that is most convenient to you at the time. Use the search engines and software resources from the computer, while you work through the lessons, assignments and quizzes in the interactive online classroom. And when you are away from the computer, study with the printed texts, table sections, and workforms.

This course is also an ideal refresher for those who have been away from the topic for some time, or just want more practice and perhaps see other approaches. For those with this experience already, you might just go straight to the quizzes and then fill in the training as required. Questions and comments from more experienced navigators would be a welcome and beneficial addition to the discussion groups.

Most people doing the course intend to use the knowledge for actual navigation at sea, but we do often have people learning cel nav without that specific goal. It is a fascinating subject in its own right. Amateur astronomers, school teachers, kayakers, and others just interested in the sky and this subject have taken part. It is a very rewarding exercise.


Estimated to be about 30 hours of your time, depending on how much optional material you wish to cover. You work at your own pace on your own schedule.


You can start at any time, and submit quizzes and discussion any time of day or night. The lesson quizzes must be submitted sequentially. You have one year to complete the course, or request an extension if needed.

Celestial Navigation Course Description

This course covers all aspects of practical celestial navigation, starting from the very basics and ending with all you need to safely and efficiently navigate an open ocean passage.

How the course works
Please read the general description of How the Courses work. You can sign up for the course anytime once you have purchased it.

The celestial course builds progressively on previous lessons. An experienced navigator could jump to special topics by just submitting the earlier quizzes, but those new to the subject should study the material sequentially and post questions as needed.

There are no formal prerequisites for the Celestial Course. We do basic plotting using parallel rulers and dividers, but that is also explained in the course. There are no math requirements other than addition and subtraction of angles and time, and we review that in detail in Lesson 1. You do not need a sextant to do the course, as explained in the FAQ. In many respects, celestial navigation is “easier” than coastal navigation, but the knowledge is accumulative. It is valuable to work as many as possible of the practice problems in each lesson.

Student objectives
Find position at sea from timed sextant sights of any celestial body
Carry out a running fix from the sun
Evaluate the accuracy of a celestial fix
Incorporate celestial fixes with DR plotting to navigate an ocean crossing
Understand the principles enough to apply them to basic emergency navigation
Identify any celestial body in the sky based on its approximate height and bearing
Know how to check the compass with sun or stars at sea without landmarks
…please review the Lessons tab to see other topics covered.

This course will prepare you for the celestial navigation certification tests offered from any organization. We offer two types of certification tests ourselves, either the Starpath certification or the official US Sailing Certification in Celestial Navigation. The Starpath certification is recognized internationally through the the International Association of Sailing Schools.

Celestial Navigation Online Study Course Includes

The complete course in printed materials
A complete electronic version of the entire course on CD-ROM
Extensive resources on the CD
Enrollment in the StarPath Online Celestial Navigation forum


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Courses are offered continuously throughout the year. They are intended to last 4 to 8 weeks, assuming sequential assignments and quizzes are worked about weekly — although students are free to work through the materials at their own pace. The materials needed to do the courses are discussed in the Materials tab. To participate in the course, use the Enroll tab to sign up for the course. You must have a serial number from the required materials to enroll in the courses along with the serial number for the course tuition, when applicable. The course syllabus is shown in the Lessons tab. The Classroom tab goes straight to the specific course when logged in with your WebCard, but when viewing this information from the preview mode, the Classroom tab goes to the forum that explains how the Online Classroom interface works.

Each course consists of Lessons, Lectures, Practice Exercises, Glossary, Discussion Groups, Quizzes, a Chat Room, and the opportunity for a Certification Test.

Lessons are where we present the assignments of reading and exercises from the course materials, as well as special notes on the topics at hand. Lessons are presented in the Instructor’s Locker.

Lectures are where we present new content intended to supplement the course materials. It can be all new information, or just extensions or clarifications. Or an actual lecture with illustrations that we use in our classroom courses. Links to online resources, both our own and other’s, are included in this section.

Our goal is to make this online presentation as nearly like our actual classroom course as possible. It is intended as a way for individuals, families, or crews to learn the materials in an organized, sequential manner, within a group that has conversation among each other as well as with the instructor. Online learning is a new experience for everyone. It will certainly evolve. We welcome your suggestions and comments at any time.

Practice Exercises are assigned in the Lessons section. Some of these are in the course materials (either in the required software or books) and others are new ones presented in the Instructor’s Locker. Solutions to practice exercises are all provided as you work though them.

Glossaries for each course are online. For each lesson the new terms are singled out, so that the glossary can be used to check them. You can also access the full glossary from each lesson. The Glossaries are more like mini encyclopedias, rather than just lists of definitions. Many details of topics are relegated to the glossary so they do not distract from the flow of the course. The multiple choice questions in the quizzes are often related to the glossary terminology of the terms selected for the lesson at hand. The glossaries are extensive and thorough, and they are categorized by subject—celestial terms in the celestial glossary, radar terms in the radar glossary, and so on.

Discussion Groups are where participants can research past discussion or post their own questions. This is the place where students get individual attention as needed (as they also do in the Quizzes when graded). These questions can be answered or commented upon by fellow students (we encourage this) and by the instructor as needed. This is a central part of the course. All past discussion is indexed and there is search function to look up past topics.

It is beginning to appear that students in the online courses get more actual individual help through these discussion groups than they do in our classroom courses… and this is not so because they need more, but they are simply going into more detail, and not passing over things they wanted to ask but did not want to ask in person in the classroom. As a result, we are encouraging our classroom students to also participate in the online discussion groups. Our goal is to build up the knowledge base of questions and discussion to the point where users can find the answer to any question on navigation or weather they have at any time.

There are two Discussion Groups for each course. There is one within the course that is available to those enrolled in the course—it concentrates on questions specifically related to the course materials and practice problems—and then there is a General Discussion group for each topic (ie cel nav, weather, radar, etc), which is open to anyone with a valid WebCard. In other words, you can post a question and get an answer on, say, radar without being enrolled in the radar course. Just use the General Discussion forum for radar. All questions are generally answered within a day or so.

Quizzes are presented for each lesson. These are intended to be submitted for grading after the lesson is completed. The procedure is to print the quiz, fill in your answers, then return to the computer to submit the answers. Quizzes must be turned in sequentially. Quizzes are both multiple choice and fill in blank. Instructors can offer tips and notes when grading the quizzes.

Full solutions to each quiz exercise are available to the student after it has been graded. The results are sent by email to the student, along with access to complete solutions. A student’s history of quiz scores and their accumulated value can be accessed by the student (under the Options icon on the main Resources page). The quizzes include new exercises that are not in the study materials, though they are similar to them.

Chat Rooms. Each course has an assoicated Chat Room separate from the course content discussion forums. This is a place for general discussion, introductions, plans, conversations, and so on. Students have met here to go to sail together, take practice celestial sights, arrange for crewing, and so on. The main Discussion Groups are for navigation content only. The chat and visiting takes place in these Chat Rooms. These are like our coffee breaks in the classroom courses. We encourage new participants to introduce themselves and take part as they wish in these forums.

Certification is available in all of the topics we offer. The options and process are the same as we describe in the home study courses sections, or see certification link from the site map.


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