Instruments of Past and Sight

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Nautical Sextant

The Nautical Sextant: A valuable instrument used until the end of the second millennium by mariners and navigators to determine their position in the middle of the oceans. Being a Master Mariner I used it between 1980 and 1990 for daily sun and star sightings while sailing all around the world. From then on it was replaced by the GPS. Fixing your position became easy. But the charm was lost. In the picture a 4” english sextant (smaller than the Tamaya 6” & 8” I used at sea), made by F. Smith & Son.

Bubble Sextant

The Buble Sextant: A variation of the Nautical Sextant used by Aviators. The Air Navigator faces two problems: He cannot see the horizon, therefore he cannot determine the height of a celestial object and secondly the airplane travels fast making impossible to determine the intervals between consecutive sightings. The “Bubble” solved the problem of the horizon and “Clock”solved the matter of timing.

In the pictures you can see an original WWII Mark IX A bubble sextant in its original box. It was used by a major of R.A.F. on a Lancaster bomber. I plan to restore the instrument and have it fully working.


Bubble Pump


The Heliograph is an instrument used to measure the hours of daily sunlight. A card with hourly markings is placed in one of the grooves behind the “crystal” sphere and the sun rays burn it when the sun is visible. The most common type of Heliograph is the Campbell-Stokes (also called “Stokes Sphere”) seen in the pictures above.  This particular instrument has been made in U.K. by Negretti and Zambra.


Theodolite is a precision instrument for measuring horizontal and vertical angles.It is used for land surveying, even though it can be used for a variety of applications, including meteorology and astronomy.

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