Definitions for backstaff

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word backstaff

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  1. backstaff(Noun)

    An early navigational instrument for measuring the altitude of the sun and hence calculating latitude

Webster DictionaryRate this definition:(0.00 / 0 votes)

  1. Backstaff(noun)

    an instrument formerly used for taking the altitude of the heavenly bodies, but now superseded by the quadrant and sextant; -- so called because the observer turned his back to the body observed

FreebaseRate this definition:(0.00 / 0 votes)

  1. Backstaff

    The backstaff is a navigational instrument that was used to measure the altitude of a celestial body, in particular the sun or moon. When observing the sun, users kept the sun to their back and observed the shadow cast by the upper vane on a horizon vane. It was invented by the English navigator John Davis that described it in his book Seaman's Secrets in 1594.

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