Sextant meaning

sĕkstənt
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A navigational instrument containing a graduated 60-degree arc, used for measuring the altitudes of celestial bodies for use in determining the latitude and longitude of the observer.
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An instrument used by navigators for measuring the angular distance of the sun, a star, etc. from the horizon, as in finding the position of a ship.
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(nautical) A navigational device for deriving angular distances between objects so as to determine latitude and longitude.
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(geometry) One sixth of a circle or disc; a sector with an angle of 60°.
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An instrument containing a graduated 60° arc and a movable pivoted arm corresponding to the radius of the arc's circle, used in celestial navigation to measure the altitude of a celestial body in order to determine the observer's latitude and longitude. A horizontally mounted telescope and two small mirrors are arranged so that the observer can, by moving the pivoted arm, sight the horizon and the reflected image of the celestial body in the same line, giving a reading along the arc that is used to look up the observer's position in a published table.
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Origin of sextant

  • New Latin sextāns sextant- from Latin sixth part (so called because the instrument's arc is a sixth of a circle) from sextus sixth s(w)eks in Indo-European roots

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Latin sextāns, a bronze coin worth one-sixth of an as.

    From Wiktionary