Fighting Hackers with the Stars

The United States Naval Academy is once again teaching celestial navigation.

U.S. Navy celestial navigation

U.S. Navy celestial navigation

Quartermaster 2nd Class Stephanie Hudson looks through a marine sextant aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 3rd Class Kevin S. O'Brien

It’s been nearly 20 years since the United States Naval Academy taught celestial navigation to midshipmen, but new concerns about cyber-attacks on ship computers and GPS systems has instructors once again showing students how to use sextants to read the stars.

According to the Capital Gazette, the Navy ended all celestial navigation training in 2006. It was reinstated during officers' training for ship navigators in 2011, and it is now going to be part of the training for enlisted ranks.

“We went away from celestial navigation because computers are great,” Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Rogers told the Capitol Gazette. “The problem is, there’s no backup.”

Why did the Navy stop teaching celestial navigation at all? Because the U.S. military controls 31 satellites that each circle Earth twice a day to support, among other things, GPS on ships.

More pilot programs are happening: ROTC students in Philadelphia; Rochester, New York; and Auburn, Alabama began learning celestial navigation this fall.

Read the full report: click over to the Capitol Gazette.