Many seafarers have gone out to the sea for the sake of exploring new lands, creating trade routes and establishing colony. However, as many of them sailed for glorious discover, many of them have also lost themselves to the vastness of the seas and oceans. The use of stars and other celestial bodies have been useful except during stormy nights. As many demanded to have a device that could help them determine their current location, soon enough a nautical device called sextant came along.
A sextant is a nautical device used by seafarers to determine the altitude where they are currently situated through measuring the angle between a celestial body and the horizon. Its name was derived from the Latin word sextans, which means one-sixth in reference to its size which is 1/6 of a full circle. The sextant consists basically of a triangular frame, the bottom of which is a graduated arc of 60°; a telescope is attached horizontally to the plane of the frame. Commonly, it is used to measure the sun at solar noon or measure the elevation angle at night with reference to the Polaris to know one's latitude. It can also be used to measure lunar distance through scaling the distance between the moon and another celestial body - the end-result of calculation is the determination of Greenwich Time which is very useful in knowing the longitude. In addition to that, it can also be used to measure angle between two landmarks allowing for calculation of a position on a chart.
In order to use a sextant, the navigator will decide which heavenly body to shoot depending on the time of the day, clarity of the horizon. There also had to be other materials such as almanac containing the location of celestial objects and bodies in relation to earth and a chronometer to exactly gauge the time when the measurements of heavenly bodies were taken. With the use of a simple mathematical formula, the navigator can determine their exact location.
Although many devices are being invented today, the sextant has advantages. First the sextant is not dependent upon electricity or anything that is human-controlled unlike most of the modern navigation devices nowadays - one example is global positioning satellites. Because of this, sextant is useful and practical back-up or emergency navigation tool for ships. Its use and calculations is a mandatory part of all marine navigational examinations. And besides, wouldn't it be lovely to gaze at the stars like your wishing that they guide you to safe waters? Romantic or not, sextants are very useful that is why browse now and have that one quality sextant for you to use!