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SEA Currents Blog

SEA Currents: Robert C. Seamans

April 07, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset, and Stars!

Matt Hemler, C Watch, Northeastern University

Oceans & Climate

Twilight star frenzy at 1730, April 7th. From left to right: Nicole H., Mike, Claudia, and Brittany. Thanks to Elle for letting me borrow her excellent camera!

Current Position
41° 31.8’ S x 159° 08.1’ W

Course & Speed
Course Ordered 055°PSC, Course Steered 070°PSC. Speed 8 knots

Sail Plan
Motoring under the main stays’l and fore stays’l

Calm sea state and a clear sky

Souls on Board

One phenomenon of the rotational watch schedule is that on one day out of every three, you stand afternoon watch (1300-1900) and see the sun set, followed by dawn watch (0300-0700) where you get to enjoy the sunrise. It makes for a bizarre sleep schedule but on a clear night it is well worth it. Last night was one of the most incredible views of the sky I have ever seen.

The sun went down in a cloud of fiery pinkish gold and for a brief hour before the moon rose we got a spectacular view of the Milky Way Galaxy. The sky was lit up briefly by hundreds of unfamiliar stars and constellations and Third Mate Sara Martin pointed out to us the Magellan Cloud. This is a neighboring galaxy to the Milky Way that you can only see in the Southern Hemisphere when there is very little light. It is named after Magellan because he was the first European to travel to the Southern Hemisphere and observe it.

As much as I enjoyed standing around gawking at the sky’s beauty, as soon as the sun began to set we had work to do. Each twilight when it is clear enough, we have an event called star frenzy during which as many people as possible pull out sextants and shoot the stars to get a celestial fix on our position. The timing is delicate - it must be light enough to see the horizon clearly but dark enough to see the stars. The best time is between civil twilight and nautical twilight, which can be looked up in the nautical almanac. All of us on watch plus Captain Rick joined in and shot enough stars to get fixes! It was easy as Venus, Jupiter, and seven other useful stars were present (as determined by the Ho 229 Star Almanac).

The best part about standing this particular watch cycle is that after the evening star frenzy, you turn over the watch and get to eat dinner, sleep, and then do it all over again on dawn watch the next morning! Even better, in about two weeks the moon will wane away and the sky will be alight with stars all night long.

I have watch once again, so farewell. Fingers crossed there are some good stars tonight!

- Matt

P.S. – Happy Birthday, Brittany! We celebrated her birthday today with brownies with salted caramel cream cheese frosting. You can just barely see the side of her head in the picture. Also, love you Mom, Dad, and Alyssa and
I can’t wait to see you guys in New Zealand so I can tell you about all the adventures we’ve been having.

Categories: Robert C. Seamans,Oceans & Climate, • Topics: s258  celestial navigation • (2) Comments


#1. Posted by Alyssa Hemler on April 09, 2015

It’s been great reading the blogs. I was so excited to see your name at the top of this one. Can’t wait to see you in New Zealand! Make sure you’re taking lots of pictures!
Love, Alyssa

#2. Posted by Wendy Ormont on April 09, 2015

Yes, we can’t wait to hear your stories in person, and to see the southern sky, which you describe so excitedly. But it is too soon to be thinking of the end of the journey. Again, time seems to go by quickly, probably more so for you since you are so busy, and yet there is so much more you will experience, I’m sure. Enjoy! (And do you think we should get a sextant for the car so you can find where you are and where you’re headed?) Love, Hemler Mom



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