The navigation problems that our contributing editor David Berson writes for each issue of Ocean Navigator are designed to mix a good sea story with some pencil work in reducing a sextant sight or two. David does a great job of finding compelling stories of actual events to accompany his nav problems. And as a story teller he uses dramatic language to engage readers.
Now, it appears, not every reader is so excited about Berson's language choices. David Thorne, who is a faculty member at the Nautical Institute of Nova Scotia Community College in Port Hawkesbury, and who teaches celestial navigation among other marine technology courses, called our office to take issue with the phrase "shooting the sun" and "shooting a star." According to Thorne, this is a needless embellishment. The term is simply "taking a sight" Thorne said. There's no shooting involved. Even though I pointed out that "shooting the sun" was merely a colloquialism for taking a sight, Thorne stuck to his guns and would have none of it.
What do you think? Is "shooting the sun" or "shooting a star" misconstruing the true nature of the process or are they just harmless phrases that inject a bit of color?
The wider ramifications of the term "shooting the moon" are an entirely separate case, of course.