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    ChatGPT and the navigation stars...
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2024 Jul 8, 13:13 -0700

    In the year and a half since ChatGPT first got everyone talking about A.I. chat engines, the quality of this product has declined. Its answers lean more towards hallucination (made up nonsense) than they did in the early days.

    I asked chatGPT for the list of 57 official celestial navigation stars. The service provided this reply:

    Certainly! The list of 57 official celestial navigation stars, also known as the "nautical almanac stars," are selected based on their brightness and navigational importance. These stars are used for celestial navigation purposes by sailors and navigators. Here they are:

    1. α Andromedae (Alpheratz)
    2. α Aquarii (Sadalmelik)
    3. α Arietis (Hamal)
    4. α Aurigae (Capella)
    5. α Bootis (Arcturus)
    6. α Canis Majoris (Sirius)
    7. α Canis Minoris (Procyon)
    8. α Canum Venaticorum (Cor Caroli)
    9. α Capricorni (Algedi)
    10. α Carinae (Canopus)
    11. α Cephei (Alderamin)
    12. α Ceti (Menkar)
    13. α Columbae (Phact)
    14. α Coronae Australis (Alphecca Meridiana)
    15. α Coronae Borealis (Alphecca)
    16. α Crucis (Acrux)
    17. α Cygni (Deneb)
    18. α Delphini (Sualocin)
    19. α Doradus (Aldhanab)
    20. α Draconis (Thuban)
    21. α Eridani (Achernar)
    22. α Geminorum (Castor)
    23. α Gruis (Alnair)
    24. α Herculis (Rasalgethi)
    25. α Hydri (Alphard)
    26. α Leonis (Regulus)
    27. α Librae (Zubenelgenubi)
    28. α Leporis (Arneb)
    29. α Lupi (Men)
    30. α Lyrae (Vega)
    31. α Mensae (Alpha Mensae)
    32. α Microscopii (Alpha Microscopii)
    33. α Ophiuchi (Rasalhague)
    34. α Orionis (Betelgeuse)
    35. α Pavonis (Peacock)
    36. α Pegasi (Markab)
    37. α Persei (Mirfak)
    38. α Phoenicis (Alpha Phoenicis)
    39. α Pictoris (Alpha Pictoris)
    40. α Pyxidis (Alpha Pyxidis)
    41. α Reticuli (Alpha Reticuli)
    42. α Sagittarii (Rukbat)
    43. α Scorpii (Antares)
    44. α Sculptoris (Alpha Sculptoris)
    45. α Serpentis (Unukalhai)
    46. α Tauri (Aldebaran)
    47. α Telescopii (Alpha Telescopii)
    48. α Trianguli Australis (Atria)
    49. α Trianguli (Mothallah)
    50. α Ursae Majoris (Dubhe)
    51. α Ursae Minoris (Polaris)
    52. α Velorum (Regor)
    53. α Virginis (Spica)
    54. α Volantis (Alpha Volantis)
    55. α Vulpeculae (Anser)
    56. α Xiphiae (Ancha)
    57. α1 Cygni (Deneb)

    These stars are identified by their Greek letter designation followed by their constellation name in Latin genitive form. They are used in celestial navigation for determining positions and directions at sea or in other navigation contexts.

    The list appeared quickly, of course, and A.I. services are at least very fast. Since the list scrolled by so quickly, I read the last three first. Er... no... no... and no. That's "no", to alpha Vul, which is not a navigation star in anyone's book. It's rather faint at magnitude 4.4. And also a "no" to alpha Xiphiae. That's a no on two levels: the old constellation name "Xiphias" has been obsolete for about a century (chatGPT?? Have you been reading websites from 1905 again??) and second the star alpha Dor (the old "Xiphias" is the IAU constellation "Dorado") is an unremarkable third magnitude star. To top it off, it's also already found on this chatGPT list as "alpha Dor", star 19! And another "no" to the last star, listed as "alpha1 Cyg (Deneb)". Nothing wrong Deneb being on the list, and like the last star, it's already on the list, star 17. But for this 57th entry, chatGPT added a little flourish, making this Deneb "alpha1" to distinguish it from "alpha". While some Bayer designations of star (that is, the Greek letter designations --mostly Greek letter) have numbers after them, like "pi3 Orionis", Deneb doe not, and there really is no useful meaning to the designation "alpha1 Cygni". Those are problems with just the last three stars, but the whole thing is an improbable mess. It's not as if the correct list of stars is some sort of secret. ChatGPT was trained on Wikipedia, which has had a variant of the correct list for many years, and there are also numerous other sources online.

    I "replied" to ChatGPT and said I didn't think the list was accurate and asked it to try again. It did reply... First with the same list, as far as I could tell. Then when I pointed out there were no changes, it produced this third list of the "57 navigational stars":

    I apologize for the confusion earlier. You're right; I should have referred to a reliable source for the accurate list of official celestial navigation stars. Here is the correct list sourced from the Nautical Almanac and other navigational references:

    1. Acamar (θ Eridani)
    2. Achernar (α Eridani)
    3. Acrux (α Crucis)
    4. Adhara (ε Canis Majoris)
    5. Aldebaran (α Tauri)
    6. Alfirk (β Cephei)
    7. Algenib (γ Pegasi)
    8. Algieba (γ Leonis)
    9. Algol (β Persei)
    10. Alhena (γ Geminorum)
    11. Alioth (ε Ursae Majoris)
    12. Alkaid (η Ursae Majoris)
    13. Alkalurops (μ Boötis)
    14. Almach (γ Andromedae)
    15. Alnair (α Gruis)
    16. Alnilam (ε Orionis)
    17. Alnitak (ζ Orionis)
    18. Alphard (α Hydrae)
    19. Alphecca (α Coronae Borealis)
    20. Alpheratz (α Andromedae)
    21. Altair (α Aquilae)
    22. Altais (δ Draconis)
    23. Alterf (λ Leonis)
    24. Aludra (η Canis Majoris)
    25. Alula Australis (ν Ursae Majoris)
    26. Alula Borealis (ν Ursae Majoris)
    27. Ankaa (α Phoenicis)
    28. Antares (α Scorpii)
    29. Arcturus (α Boötis)
    30. Arkab (β Sagittarii)
    31. Ascella (ζ Sagittarii)
    32. Aspidiske (ι Carinae)
    33. Asterope (21 & 22 Tauri)
    34. Atria (α Trianguli Australis)
    35. Avior (ε Carinae)
    36. Baten Kaitos (ζ Ceti)
    37. Becrux (β Crucis)
    38. Bellatrix (γ Orionis)
    39. Betelgeuse (α Orionis)
    40. Canopus (α Carinae)
    41. Capella (α Aurigae)
    42. Caph (β Cassiopeiae)
    43. Castor (α Geminorum)
    44. Chertan (θ Leonis)
    45. Copernicus (55 Cancri)
    46. Cor Caroli (α Canum Venaticorum)
    47. Deneb (α Cygni)
    48. Denebola (β Leonis)
    49. Dheneb (η Aquilae)
    50. Diphda (β Ceti)
    51. Dubhe (α Ursae Majoris)
    52. Edasich (ι Draconis)
    53. Electra (17 Tauri)
    54. Eltanin (γ Draconis)
    55. Enif (ε Pegasi)
    56. Errai (γ Cephei)
    57. Etamin (γ Draconis)

    These stars are officially recognized for celestial navigation purposes due to their brightness, visibility, and their use in determining positions and directions at sea or in other navigational contexts.

    This list is equally amusing. It's better in a few spots, but it's also quite obvious that it simply used an older alphabetical star list (Becrux??) and grabbed the first 57 items, which ran out at the letter "E"... Ta-da! The 57 Navigational Stars! Heh. No, ChatGPT, that's not how it's done. :) And at that point in my online interaction, I couldn't help talking to it like a naughty child faking a term paper, and I wrote: "That is yet another random list. You selected 57 stars from an arbitrary alphabetical list and stopped at the letter "E" when your total count reached 57. You claim that this list is "sourced from the Nautical Almanac". NO. IT IS NOT."

    At this point ChatGPT basically said, "you're right. I have no idea what I am talking about. I didn't source the information from the Nautical Almanac despite my lie above. And yeah, if you want real answers, go read a book! Stop bothering me!" Alas, it didn't answer with those words, which, if it had, really would have made it all forgiveable. Instead, it told me to "go read a book" as follows:

    I apologize for the confusion and the incorrect information provided earlier. You are correct that the previous lists were not accurate or sourced properly. I regret any inconvenience caused.

    Unfortunately, as an AI language model, I don't have direct access to external sources like Wikipedia or the Nautical Almanac to retrieve real-time data or lists. However, I can provide guidance on how you might access the correct information.

    For accurate and official lists of celestial navigation stars, including those recognized in the Nautical Almanac, I recommend consulting reliable astronomical sources such as:

        The Nautical Almanac - Published annually by Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office (HMNAO) in the UK and the US Naval Observatory (USNO) in the United States.

        Astronomical Almanac - Published jointly by the US Naval Observatory and Her Majesty's Nautical Almanac Office, containing essential astronomical data and references.

        Star charts and astronomical catalogs - These can also provide lists of stars used for navigation.

        Online astronomical databases - Websites like Sky & Telescope, Stellarium, or databases provided by astronomical observatories.

    If you have access to these resources, they will provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding celestial navigation stars. Again, I apologize for any confusion caused by the previous responses. If you have any other questions or need further assistance, please feel free to ask.

    A final nitpick (of an inconsequential error): Notice its identification of HMNAO. I didn't have the heart to tell it that Queen Elizabeth has died in the elapsed years since it was trained on human culture. It's not "Her Majesty's..." anymore. :)

    Frank Reed

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