Product images of Sextant reputed to have been used on James Cook's third voyage to the Pacific (1776-80)
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Sextant reputed to have been used on James Cook's third voyage to the Pacific (1776-80)
Developed from the more limited octant in the 1750s, the sextant could be used either to find the height of the Sun above the horizon to determine a ship's latitude, or measure angles between the Moon and fixed stars. The latter was a more difficult observation to do accurately on a moving vessel but, using published tables, allowed a skilled navigator to calculate his longitude as well. This particular instrument is reputed to have been used by Captain Cook on his third Pacific voyage, 1776-80 and is one of four known to survive from his three expeditions. Cook used lunar-distance sextant observations made on land to check the accuracy of the experimental chronometers he took on his last two Pacific voyages. Jesse Ramsden, was one of the best London instrument makers of the late 18th century.
- Image reference: D5218
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Acquired with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund.