by Tim Thornton
In these days of GPS and computers, you may think that traditional navigation by sextant is a dying art. However this is not the case, with sextant sales remaining buoyant as mariners use a sextant both as a back-up against GPS failure, and for the satisfaction of actually deriving their position rather than just reading it off an electronic display.
Win Astro Sextant software
The main drawback with astro navigation is not using the sextant, but rather the tedious and complex sight reduction calculations, and the need to buy a new nautical almanac each year. Using Smartcom Software’s WinAstro software solves all of this, as with a few clicks you can plan your sight, enter the time and sextant reading, and get a Line of Position.
Amongst the many users of WinAstro are most of the competitors in the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race, as well as many other ocean racing yachts. All of these boats recognise the need for a backup to GPS, but don’t want the weight of carrying an almanac or the tedium of the sight reduction calculations.
A new version of WinAstro has just been released. The main improvements are the inclusion of Stellarium to give a sky at night planetarium to help recognise the stars, planets and constellations, and also a French version of the software. The new release is also fully Vista compatible (as well as running on older versions of Windows).
WinAstro remains priced at just £24.95 including VAT.
More information on WinAstro, including the ability to download a demo version, can be obtained from www.winastro.co.uk