Friday, February 4, 2011

D'oh moment

A little while back I was explaining my experiences with the use of a sextant to establish our position on the earth to someone.  I related how the calculations to reduce a sight are tedious, repetitive, and prone to many, many kinds of error.  And that my first attempt at establishing our position out on Puget Sound is frequently offered by Jane as a reason for us not to set off on a round-the-world cruise:  I made our position to be somewhat southeast of Cle Elum, WA.

"If only," I mused, "there was a small hand-held computer that could be programmed to do the sight reduction for me."   Then I had an epiphany - I had just such a device in my pocket!  My iPhone was entirely suitable for this task!

Like a flash, I did a quick app search, and found a sight reduction app (for $49.95!) that was just the ticket.  That seemed like a lot, but loading all the ephemeri for a large collection of heavenly bodies would be a daunting task, and certainly deserved appropriate compensation.

And then the blocks slowly fell into place in my (perhaps slightly wine-impaired) brain.  Wait a moment...  if I have an operating iPhone, I already know my position on earth to within a few feet, thanks to its GPS.  D'oh.

But for an even bigger d'oh, what was the guy who wrote the iPhone app thinking?

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