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What does a sextant measure?

Last Updated: 15th May, 2020

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A sextant is a doubly reflecting navigationinstrument that measures the angular distance between twovisible objects. The primary use of a sextant is tomeasure the angle between an astronomical object and thehorizon for the purposes of celestial navigation.

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Also asked, how does a sextant measure longitude?

It is an astronomical method of calculating thelongitude at which a position line, drawn from a sight bysextant of any celestial body, crosses the observer'sassumed latitude. The angle between the sea horizon and thecelestial body is measured with a sextant and thetime noted.

Likewise, why is the sextant so important? A sextant is a very important mathematicalinstrument for navigating at sea. It can also be used inastronomy. It is used to measure the angle between two faraway objects. Most often these objects are the sun and the horizon,or the pole star and the horizon.

Also to know is, how does the sextant work?

All it is is a device that measures the angle betweentwo objects. The sextant makes use of two mirrors. With thissextant, one of the mirrors ( mirror A in the diagram) ishalf-silvered, which allows some light to pass through. Innavigating, you look at the horizon through thismirror.

How do you use a sextant to navigate?

To use the sextant the telescope must befocused on the horizon. The celestial body to be shot, found andthe sextant aimed at it. Bring the body down to the horizonby moving the arm along the arc and then clamp thearm.

Related Question Answers

Wahba Albaum

Professional

How do you calculate time using longitude?

Finding Longitude
Because one day is 24 hours long one can easily usetime to calculate longitude. One hour of timedifference corresponds to 15° of longitude (360°/24hours = 15°/hour). Suppose an observer sets his accurate watchto 12:00 at noon in Greenwich, England and then travels a greatdistance.

Giselda Pe├▒agarikano

Professional

How did Columbus navigate?

Although Columbus was primarily a dead reckoningnavigator, he did experiment with celestialnavigation from time to time. In celestialnavigation, the navigator observes celestial bodies (Sun,Moon and stars) to measure his latitude. The most important toolused by Columbus in his celestial attempts was thequadrant.

Artemis Berzen

Professional

What instrument measures longitude?

A sextant is a doubly reflecting navigationinstrument that measures the angular distance betweentwo visible objects. The primary use of a sextant is tomeasure the angle between an astronomical object and thehorizon for the purposes of celestial navigation.

Patrici Hayaliev

Explainer

What is the difference between a sextant and an Octant?

As nouns the difference between sextant andoctant
is that sextant is (nautical) a navigationaldevice for deriving angular distances between objects so asto determine latitude and longitude while octant is theeighth part of a circle; an arc of 45 degrees.

Guaditoca Vasters

Explainer

Are sextants still used today?

Currently voted the best answer.
The sextant was a tool that was usedconsistently for navigation. Today, it is still beingused to navigate the most difficult conditions. Thesextant was designed with the knowledge of the weather andocean currents. Response last updated by satguru on Aug 292016.

Balma Czyborra

Explainer

Can you use a sextant during the day?

The sextant allows celestial objects to bemeasured relative to the horizon. This allows for excellentprecision. The sextant allows direct observation ofstars which allows it to be used at night. For solarobservations, filters allow observations of thesun.

Pabla Elzer

Pundit

Why is it called a sextant?

The sextant is an instrument used to measureangles. Mainly used at sea, the tool is so named because itsarc is one-sixth of a circle – 60 degrees. Practicallyspeaking, the arc of the sextant is a little over 60 degreesand therefore the total angle measurable is about 130degrees.

Mayerly De Vries

Pundit

How do sailors use the stars to navigate?

Many sailors of old used a handy tool to helpmeasure precisely how high or low a star was in the sky:their fingers! By holding his arms straight out in front of him, amariner laid his fingers on top of each other to measure the“height” of a star such as the North Starfrom the horizon.

Teona Milewski

Pundit

How much does a sextant cost?

Prices vary significantly but you can find a goodaluminum sextant like Astra IIIb for anywhere between $250to $300.

Shaniqua Jahimovich

Pundit

How does a sextant determine latitude?

A common use of the sextant is to sight the sunat noon to find one's latitude. Held horizontally,the sextant can be used to measure the angle betweenany two objects, such as between two lighthouses, which will,similarly, allow for calculation of a line of position on achart.

Emanuil Brido

Pundit

Who invented the first sextant?

John Campbell

Safira Grano De Oro

Teacher

Who invented the sextant and when?

Although Bird invented the sextant, it was basedoff models of the octant by John Hadley and Thomas Godfrey, who inturn actually based their work off of Isaac Newton, who came upwith the theory behind the instrument in 1699.

Lanell Clooth

Teacher

Can a sextant be used on land?

NO, a sextant is not very useful while hiking. agood compass and maps are all you need. if you want to learncelestial navigation, you need to be at sea where you'll at leasthave a true horizon and consistant altitude to work with. hey,learning to use a sextant can be lot offun!

Absalon Bianchetti

Teacher

Luanne Pekhotin

Reviewer

How did the sextant improve exploration?

The sextant played a key role in the Age ofExploration by providing sailors with accurate readings ofthe latitude of their ships. However, the sextant couldeasily be used on ships because the horizon line and celestial bodyseemed to move together with the ship as it bounced overwaves.

Helmut Oechsler

Reviewer

What is chart in navigation?

A nautical chart is one of the most fundamentaltools available to the mariner. It is a map that depicts theconfiguration of the shoreline and seafloor. It provides waterdepths, locations of dangers to navigation, locations andcharacteristics of aids to navigation, anchorages, and otherfeatures.

Toshiko Peterschulte

Reviewer

How does a quadrant work?

The quadrant is a very simple tool that allowsthe user to determine his or her latitude by measuring the altitudeof a heavenly body. Quadrants were often designed for aspecific use. Artillery officers used a simplified quadrantknown as a gunner's quadrant for aiming their guns andmeasuring distance.

Najim Jansana

Reviewer

How big is a sextant?

To be correct, the instrument should be called apentant, a fifth of a circle, rather than a sextant. Thisjewel is only 4 1/2 inches radius.

Viliam Chollet

Supporter

What Explorer used a sextant?

Here you see the famous American explorer, JohnCharles Freemont, using a sextant and mercury artificialhorizon to find his position during his expedition of 1842 to mapthe Oregon Trail.