# NavList:

## A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding

Message:αβγ
Message:abc
 Add Images & Files Posting Code: Name: Email:
Re: Sextant Terms
From: George Huxtable
Date: 2007 Oct 21, 19:57 +0100

```Dan Allen asked about a matter which seems to puzzle many, justifiably. It's
a result of inconsistent naming.
|
| A sextant has an arc of 60 degrees; most (all?) sextants use the
| double reflecting principle to measure up to an angle of 120 degrees.
|
| A quintant has an arc of 72 degrees; these instruments can measure up
| to an angle of 144 degrees.
|
| It is my understanding that earlier instruments, which did not have
| the double reflecting principle, could only measure their arc's
| worth, so to speak.
|
| So a quadrant is 90 degrees; the instrument of the same name could
| only measure 90 degrees.
|
| An octant is only 45 degrees; these could only measure 45 degrees,
| but did not some octants use the double reflecting principle to
| measure 90 degrees?

=============

Dan is absolutely right, that until double reflection came in, instruments
could only measure a range of angles which corresponded to the geometrical
length of their arc. So the astronomer's quadrant could measure only to 90
degrees. similarly with the mariner's quadrant, when this was no more than a
90-degree arc with a sight-tube attached and a plumb-bob to show the
vertical. Other quadrants, such as the Davis, appeared, and these all had an
arc, or two combined arcs, 90 degrees in length, to measure altitudes up to
the vertical. No doubling.

been preceded by a double-reflecting instrument, using the same principle,
by Newton, which had been used at sea by Halley before 1700). In all these
double-refecting instruments the measurable angle was double the actual
scale length. Lunar distances had not yet become a practical possibility, so
there was no call to measure angles greater than 90 degrees, and for these
instruments a scale-length of 45 degrees would suffice. Nevertheless, the
Hadley instrument , measuring up to 90, was still for that reason called a
that, much misunderstanding followed.

When lunar distances became practicable, it became useful to have an
instrument which could read angles up to 120, so the arc of the "Hadley" was
expanded to subtend 60 degrees, about 1760, and it became known for that
reason as the sextant, a sixth of a circle, though that was logically
instruments continued to be made and used, for the next 100 years and more,
but the illogicality of their naming was recognised, and they became known
not as quadrants but as octants, because the arc subtended one-eighth of a
circle.

exactly the same thing as octants, under a different name. All are
double-reflecting. They all had an arc of 45 degrees, and all could measure
angles up to 90 degrees.

George.

contact George Huxtable at george---.u-net.com
or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.

--~--~---------~--~----~------------~-------~--~----~
To post to this group, send email to NavList@fer3.com
To unsubscribe, send email to NavList-unsubscribe@fer3.com
-~----------~----~----~----~------~----~------~--~---

```
Browse Files

Drop Files

### Join NavList

 Name: (please, no nicknames or handles) Email:
 Do you want to receive all group messages by email? Yes No
You can also join by posting. Your first on-topic post automatically makes you a member.

### Posting Code

Enter the email address associated with your NavList messages. Your posting code will be emailed to you immediately.
 Email:

### Email Settings

 Posting Code:

### Custom Index

 Subject: Author: Start date: (yyyymm dd) End date: (yyyymm dd)