July Monthly Meeting: Celestial Navigation by Terry Cuttle

The main presentation of our July monthly meeting is titled  Celestial Navigation by Terry Cuttle (overview below)

The July 2021 meeting will be a face-to-face meeting; attendees can also join in online via Zoom. Details emailed to members. Guests/visitors can contact us for Zoom details at .

Visitors are welcome to join our face-to-face or online meetings.

Please stay home and attend online if you have:
• fever or symptoms of respiratory infection (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath);
• returned from overseas in the last 14 days;
• been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19: (coronavirus) in the last 14 days.

Presentation Overview and Presenter Bio

Terry CuttleNo astronomer should truly be lost if he (she) can see the night sky and has an understanding of how to interpret it.  But, in the age of GPS, the art and science of celestial navigation is at risk of being lost.  Just how did the Polynesians reliably navigate between isolated islands in the Pacific Ocean?  How were the challenges faced by the early European explorers and later trading shipping in determining their position at sea overcome so as to avoid disastrous accidents and just how can a skilled navigator use a sextant to accurately fix position and navigate far from sight of land?  The answer to all these questions is to effectively use the stars and solar system bodies in celestial navigation.

Terry Cuttle is a retired engineer and past president of the AAQ. He is especially known in the astronomical community for his interest in observing and photographing transient astronomical phenomena, especially eclipses.  Celestial Navigation is another of Terry’s interests and brings together Terry’s passion for astronomy and daytime pursuit of sailing in and out of Moreton Bay.

Terry will describe the development of celestial navigation from the techniques used by early voyagers (Vikings, Polynesians and Arab traders) to cross vast open oceans, through the development of celestial navigation techniques from the 1400’s to the 1800’s and through to the current day.  Terry will have reproductions of historical navigation instruments (Astrolabe, Quadrant, Cross staff and Back staff) to demonstrate their use. He will show how to use a Sextant to accurately determine co-ordinates on land or the open oceans, techniques which were in common use up until the end of the 20th century; and he will discuss the future use of Celestial Navigation as an essential component in the exploration of space.


17 Jul 2021


4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Parnell Lecture Theatre 07-222


Parnell Lecture Theatre 07-222
Parnel Building, University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4067

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