One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An instrument with a graduated arc of 60° and a sighting mechanism, used for measuring the angular distances between objects and especially for taking altitudes in navigation.
- ‘Until recently, oceanographers gathered much of their data from solitary vessels that they navigated by means of stars and sextants.’
- ‘Later, celestial navigation using sextants and fairly accurate clocks enabled absolute positioning, but the sailors had to refer back to dead reckoning on days with poor weather conditions.’
- ‘He was sure he was on the right trail, for being no fool he measured by sextant and compass; he was now in New Mexico territory.’
- ‘They carried sextants, barometers, thermometers, artificial horizons, cameras, and fountain pens… butterfly nets, geologists' hammers, and notebooks for all sorts of records.’
- ‘We fitted the trucks with air wheels - balloon tires, we would say now - and kept going, navigating like mariners, by sextant and compass and dead reckoning.’
- ‘When the ten minutes are up, as signified by the ding of an egg timer, a piece of nautical equipment as pedigreed as an astrolabe or a sextant.’
- ‘His other instruments still worked fine - sextants, reflecting circle, artificial horizon, telescope, chronometer, several compasses and probably a couple of thermometers - and he continued recording latitudes and longitudes.’
- ‘They had sextants, early microscopes, clocks, thermometers, and barometers.’
- ‘His expedition required the development and assemblage of a network of geographic and other technologies, including credit systems, ships, maps, and sextants.’
- ‘The sextant goes with the nautical theme - she's trying to find where she's going, where she's been.’
- ‘Having begun my navigation career with star shots on sextants and theodolites and sun-compasses during the day, I appreciated the technical brilliance of the GPS (the US Global Positioning System).’
- ‘With only a sextant and a compass, they navigate for 16 days.’
- ‘And it's equally true now, even though satellites have taken over from sextants, the Sun and fixed stars as the navigation aids of choice.’
- ‘Most of the scientific instruments were lost: the sextants, the big telescope, the five compasses, the artificial horizons; even the thermometers.’
- ‘These units incorporated mechanical gyroscopes and while the aircraft were fitted with sextants, it was the INUs that became the primary means of navigation.’
- ‘To measure latitude, Frémont had two sextants and a reflecting circle, essentially sophisticated protractors; they were used to measure the angle of the sun or the polestar above the horizon.’
- ‘Suffering appalling hardships and risking dreadful tortures and death if caught, they walked for thousands of miles recording distances, altitudes and bearings with measured paces and concealed thermometers and sextants.’
- ‘Selecting five of the hardiest men, he took a single boat on a journey of 800 miles, across a raging sea, with a sextant the only navigation tool, to the island of South Georgia.’
- ‘The eleven wooden vessels were powered by the wind and guided by the celestial bodies, thanks to that remarkable scientific instrument, the sextant.’
- ‘Over the past several thousand years, mankind has found countless innovative ways to master this task, leveraging geographical characteristics, constellation of planets and stars and later also tools such as sextants and compasses.’
Late 16th century (denoting the sixth part of a circle): from Latin sextans, sextant- ‘sixth part’, from sextus ‘sixth’.
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