Solar Eclipse in NW Europe - 20 March 2015 - 02 March 2015

There will be a solar eclipse on 20th March, visible from the UK and many other parts of North West Europe. Unfortunately here in the UK we won't be able to see a full eclipse, but we will see the moon pass in front of the sun. Follow the link for more information.

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US Army rediscovers celestial navigation - 20 October 2014

After GPS totally displaced most other forms of navigation, there is a growing awareness that GPS (and other systems like GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou etc) is very susceptible to jamming and other forms of interference. So the US army are turning the clock back, to include celestial navigation in their laser targetting systems.

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Hoegh guards against GPS failure with WinAstro - 15 May 2014

Hoegh Fleet Services, who manage a fleet of over 50 car carrier ships, have decided to guard against GPS failure on their vessels by getting a fleet wide licence for WinAstro. Unlike GPS and other GNSS systems, astro navigation cannot be jammed, spoofed, or suffer from systems or satellite failures! Whilst e-LORAN will provide a much needed alternative means of navigation for coastal waters, it will be a considerable time before it offers widespread coverage.

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Article on Yacht Navigation by Sextant - 15 May 2014

People may be interested in this blog article reviewing a book on navigating in the Victoria (BC) to Maui (Hawaii) using just a sextant for navigation (back in 1982, predating GPS). It also comes up with other useful comments on navigating by the stars.

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New Contact Details - 06 January 2014

With the European Space Agency having provided us with office space at Harwell for our


project, we have closed the old office at the Portsmouth Technopole - we can only fill one office! E-mails remain unchanged, but the phone number has changed to +44 (0)7985 927376.

23rd Greatest Breakthrough Since the Wheel - 06 January 2014

The Atlantic magazine has made a list of the 50 greatest breakthroughs since the wheel in its Octover 2013 issue. The sextant came in at number 23, with the sailboat at 40.

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Web Site - 16 December 2013

Apologies for the web site having been down the last few weeks. We had some server problems, and pressures of work meant we decided to fix things in a major server upgrade, without doing a short term fix. The upgrade was finished last week, and all is working well again.

Sextant navigation in Falklands War aircraft - 01 April 2012

Back in 1982 we English had a spat with the Argentinians over the Falklands (or Malvinas) Islands - it doesn't seem like 30 years ago.

One of the missions flown by the RAF was sending a Vulcan bomber 8,000 miles to bomb an Argentinian airfield - navigated by sextant.

Channel 4's film on this, Falkland's Most Daring Raid, can be viewed online. It is also reviewed by the Daily Mirror.

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New Dava Sobel book on Copernicus - 28 September 2011

There's a new book out on Copernicus, by Dava Sobel, who wrote the best seller Longitude. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but if Longitude is anything to go by it'll probably be a good read, but lacking in depth for me. I preferred Umberto Eco's "The Island of the Day Before" to Longitude. Anyway, there's a review of her book in

The Economist



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Inexpensive training sextants - 06 May 2011

Many people want an inexpensive sextant for practicing ashore - either to learn astro navigation without making a large investment in a quality sextant, or to keep in practice when the boat's sextant is not around. We can now offer this with the AstroMedia sextant, which costs just £15.75, and is remarkably good quality and accurate for this price.

We will also be adding additional sextants to our product range in the near future, from Astra, Freiberger and others.

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GPS jamming in US by Lightsquared - 02 February 2011

Lightsquared, who are developing a US wireless data network, have been granted permission to use frequencies that are used by GPS, even though t is proven that thios will stop GPS receivers from operating near their transmitters. Luckily, sextants are not affected!


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WinAstro reviewed by Practical Boat Owner - 25 January 2011

Practical Boat Owner has reviewed WinAstro and given it a very good *** rating. You can read the review here on the web site. 

Mike Richey passed away - 25 January 2011

Mike Richey, expert on astro navigation and famous for his single-handed races across the Atlantic in the 26 foot junk rigged boat "Jester", passed away on 26th December at the age of 92. He was also one of the founders of the Royal Institute of Navigation, and served an apprenticeship with the sculptor and typrographer Eric Gill.
Read his obituary here.

WinAstro reviewed by Seil magazine - 30 July 2010

The Norwegian magazine Seil has reviewed WinAstro. The report, written by Terje Bølstad, is available for reading on Seil's web site - he has been an enthusiastic user of WinAstro for many years..

WinAstro now with Planetariom Software - 30 July 2010

WinAstro is now supplied with a separate planetarium program, Stellarium, that lets you see the sky at night from your location, and identify the stars, planets and constellations. This helps you identify the body you want to take a sight on, and more generally to identify all the objects in the sky - a great way to make those night watches more interesting!

You are here > Astro Info > Books
English (United Kingdom)

Astro Navigation Books

Here we offer a range of books on sextants, celestial navigation, and using PCs on board in general. To obtain new or second hand copies of books either in or out of print, we partner with and with Amazon. AbeBooks specialise in second hand books, whereas Amazon offer new and secondhand, but are generally best for new.

Click on the graphic on the left to buy through Amazon, or the book title on the right to buy through AbeBooks.

Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen by Mary Blewitt - this must be the classic guide to astro navigation, originally written around 1950 and now in its 12th edition. The first, and many would say still the best, book to make astro navigation approachable. Published 2008. 72 pages.

Celestial Navigation: Colour Edition by Tom Cunliffe - a concise, clear and straightforward guide to navigating with a sextant. Written in Tom's relaxed style for those who just want to know the essentials, without delving into the formulae and other arcana of this supposedly dark art. Published 2000. 64 pages.

Admiralty Manual of Navigation V2: Astro Navigation for those who want an in depth understanding of navigation by sextant, including all the different types of sight and sight reduction methods as well as the background theory.

The Sextant Handbook: Adjustment, Repair, Use and History by Bruce Bauer - as the title says, all you need to know about a sextant, from selecting a sextant to using and maintaining it, as well as a short history. This book is solely concerned with the sextant and taking a sight with it; it does not go on to deal with the methods of sight reduction - but then you have WinAstro to do that for you! Published 1995. 192 pages.
Taking the Stars: Celestial Navigation from Argonauts to Astronauts by Peter W. Ifland - if you want to know the history of celestial navigation from the earliest days to its use in space, this illustrated book is for you. Published 1998. 222 pages.
Longitude by Dava Sobel. This popular book on Harrison's development of an accurate watch, allowing longitude to be determined accurately, makes a good read on the development of an invention that was as significant in its day as GPS has been nowadays.

The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco. A fictionalised account of the race to determine time accurately, ultimately won by Harrison's clock but with many other competing approaches, some more scientific than others. A wider scope than Sobel's book and, in my opinion, a better read. Published 1996. 515 pages.


Yachting Monthly's Computers on Board

Based on a popular series of articles in "Yachting Monthly", this book takes a modern, hands-on look at using PCs at sea. Tim Thornton's accessible style and helpful use of colour photographs and diagrams gives readers the tools to maximise the benefits of using computers at sea whilst avoiding common problems. Up to the minute, practical and tackling a range of issues for sailors, motor boaters, cruisers and racers, this comprehensive book covers communications and entertainment systems as well as navigation. Topics covered include hardware options (what does what, what is most suitable for your needs, linking equipment); voice communications; data, email and internet; obtaining weather data; navigating with a PC; and entertainment systems. A user-friendly and important book, this is the first place to go for all boaters wanting the last word on using computers at sea. Published 2007. 128 pages.


Using PCs on Board

A manual on using a PC on board a boat. It guides the reader through the process of choosing a PC as well as suitable software for tidal calculations, route planning, chart plotting, performance analysis, weather information, communications and the Internet. The authors demonstrate how using a PC can make life easier on board and take the slog out of navigational calculations. There is information on installing and looking after a PC on board, along with discussions of power supplies, interfacing and upgrading. First published in 2000, 2nd Edition in 2003. 160 pages.