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Navigate By The Stars!

American Sailing Association 107 Celestial Navigation

Learning Celestial navigation initially requires a study of the theory involved in observing the angle of selected celestial bodies with the sextant, and performing computations on these sextant sightings in order to derive the ship’s position. The theory study makes up ASA 107, the Celestial Navigation Course. It is done as home study course, with guidance from your instructor via phone or email. Certification is achieved through an exam which can be proctored at your local library and will be graded by your instructor.

Once you have the theory down, you are ready to go to sea and practice taking sights with the sextant and plotting these sights to obtain your position. The practice will build your skill, accuracy and confidence that this time honored method of navigation works perfectly well. This is done as part of ASA 108, the Offshore Passagemaking course.

ASA 107 Home Study Course

Required materials that are provided by us

Textbook: A Star to Steer Her By, by Edward J. Bergin, published by Cornell Maritime Press, 1983

Book: Pub. No . 229 Sight Reduction Tables for Marine Navigation, Vol. 3, latitudes 30 to 45 degrees

Universal Plotting Sheets, a pad with 50 sheets, used to plot your practical examples and problems.

Chart: OGW 925 (formerly called DMA 925 or NGA 925) plotting chart for latitudes 29 to 36 degrees, which is mandatory for taking the ASA 107 exam.

All the above items are included in the price and  shipped to you when you enroll for the course. Also included in the package is a pre-addressed USPS Priority Mail envelope that you will use to send in your exam papers for grading.

Required tools

Instrument: 2102 D Star Finder, a circular slide rule used to pre-compute the stars and planets visible at twilight

Book: The Star Finder Book by David Burch, 2nd edition, published by Starpath, Seattle, 2008.

We recommend that you purchase the Star Finder from Starpath, where your purchase will include a free ebook copy of the Star Finder book, which should prove adequate for your purposes.

Tools: Parallel rules, dividers, right triangle, pencil and eraser, same as used for coastal navigation. Purchase locally or online.

Workforms: Your textbook has two blank forms which you may copy for personal use in practicing the examples and exercises in the book.

Workforms: We use our own workforms which you can download, practice with, and use during the exam.

Recommended materials

These items have been chosen to assist you in your home studies

Video: Celestial Navigation at Sea by Maryland School of Sailing. Pay special attention to the process shown for logging course and distance travelled on a hourly basis, and for averaging and plotting these in four hour increments. These techniques will be used in the ASA 107 exam and at sea.

Video: Celestial Navigation: Sextant Basics by Maryland School of Sailing. An excellent demo of calibrating and using the sextant.

Book: Nautical Almanac for current year. Familiarize yourself with this indispensable resource which you will use at sea.

Book: Celestial Navigation by Tom Cunliffe, revised and updated edition, published by Fernhurst Books, UK. Excellent graphics for basic theory, handling of time, and sextant calibration. Currently available for kindle or on paper on amazon. However there is a newer book Ocean Sailing by the same author which seems to encompass the original 64 page small book plus two added sections, one on world weather patterns and one on routines at sea.

All our 107 courses are taught by Captain Louise Orion. She is based in St Thomas and available by phone, Skype or email for consultation .

ASA standard

Able to demonstrate the Celestial Navigation theory required to safely navigate a sailboat on an offshore passage. The practical application is conducted in the Offshore Passagemaking Standard.

Celestial Navigation Instruction

Home study course                                                            

         Rate                  $350 per person

         Email support is included

ASA 107 Home Study Support

If you need assistance during your home study, you may contact Captain Orion and you will be given a special email address to use for this purpose.

If you need more extensive tutoring or coaching to speed up your progress, contact us to arrange this for a fee in one hour blocks.

Personal coaching in 1 hour blocks

         Rate                 $60 per hour


      Textbook and plotting charts are included. ASA certification is included.

ASA 107 Exam

1. Once you have completed your home study, contact Captain Orion to fine tune your exam preparation.

2. Make arrangements with your local library for them to proctor the exam. Plan on being available for a full day, starting in the morning, as the exam may take six hours to complete and should not be done over two days. You may want to bring a lunch.

3. Contact us and give us the librarian’s email address so that we can email him/her the exam materials.

4. Carefully read the Student Guide in advance of your exam. This is a password protected download, and you will receive  a link and your password once you enroll in the course.

5. Be sure to bring the OGW Pub 925 Position Plotting Chart which is mandatory for this exam. Note that for the exam, the universal plotting sheets WILL NOT WORK as they are too small.

6. Bring with you to the exam site all the items listed in the Student Guide. This includes your Star Finder and Pub 229 volume 3 book.

7. Bring several blank copies of the two sight reduction forms: one for Sun, Moon and Planets and one for Stars. Use either the forms from Blue Planet or the forms from your textbook.

8. Once completed, mail all exam pages, sight reduction workforms, raw calculations and plotting sheet to Captain Orion for grading, in the pre-addressed mailer supplied with your course materials.

9. You will review your exam results with Captain Orion either by phone/email or while on board Blue Planet.