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MtMan-List: Re: My reason for being on this list



Welcome, Susan! I think, if your husband is interested, he could make a fine 
trader-explorer. It's a little-known fact that the early (1780's-1820's) 
explorers of the fur trade era did NOT work with a transit, rod & chain. 
Instead, they used a sextant to find their latitude & longitude by celestial 
navigation (then, it was called "practical astronomy"). You don't need a 
horrendously expensive sextant to get started on this; a plastic "lifeboat 
sextant" ($50-$100) and a bowl of water for an artificial horizon are enough 
to get going. The modern techniquest of celestial depend on having an 
accurate watch; however, Lewis & Clark, David Thompson, Alexander Mackenzie, 
Simon Fraser, & many other early explorers did not have an accurate watch 
(not invented yet!) so they had to use meridian altitudes and double 
altitudes to determine latitude, and lunar distances to determine longitude. 
The lunar distance method will work well with your husband's computer hobby, 
because lunar distance tables haven't been produced for almost 100 years; a 
computer program and almanac can be used to create lunar distance tables for 
modern navigators trying to use the lunar distance method. (BTW, it's fun to 
explain to folks that Local Mean Solar Time was what was on people's watches 
until the 1860's, and the time on the visitor's watch is _at least_ an hour 
off!)

Why do I know so much about this stuff? My husband has done a lot of 
research & reenacting in this area. He has focussed on the work of David 
Thompson, but lots of explorers used the same methods and worked for fur 
trading companies such as the HBC and North West Company. Jeff has a great 
time creating his map of North America based solely on his historic 
navigational observations. For more info, see the web page
www.telusplanet.net/public/gottfred/nwj.html 
and follow the links to the article on the navigational methods of David 
Thompson.

Your humble & obedient servant,
Angela Gottfred
agottfre@telusplanet.net