What Is Sextant? Definition And Usage Of This Term

What Is Sextant? Definition And Usage Of This Term

WHAT IS SEXTANT – In this topic, we are going to know and learn the definition of this term and how is this term used in sentences.

What Is Sextant


The Oxford Dictionary defines the term as the following:

  • 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.

Meanwhile, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this term as the following:

  • an instrument for measuring angular distances used especially in navigation to observe altitudes of celestial bodies (as in ascertaining latitude and longitude)


Here are some of the following synonyms:

  • measuring system
  • limb
  • measuring device
  • astrolabe measuring instrument


It is a late 16th century term which is from the Latin sextanssextant-, which means ‘sixth part‘, which is from the term sextus or ‘sixth‘.


Here are some examples of the usage of this term:

  • He also invented a reflecting sextant for observing the distance between the moon and the fixed stars, – the same in every essential as the instrument which is still in everyday use at sea under the name of Hadley’s quadrant.
  • No further practical advance appears to have been made in the design or construction of the instrument till the year 1723, when John Hadley (best known as the inventor of the sextant) presented to the Royal Society a reflecting telescope of the Newtonian construction, with a metallic speculum of 6-in.
  • Zacli published Tables of the Sun (Gotha, 1792; new and improved edition, ibid., 1804), and numerous papers on geographical subjects, particularly on the geographical positions of many towns and places, which he determined on his travels with a sextant
  • This was rapidly developed into the modern marine sextant.

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