Sextant


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On July 22, 1804, while at White Catfish Camp on the Missouri River, ten miles above the mouth of the Platte, Lewis took time to enter into his journal brief descriptions of the instruments he and Clark used in making celestial observations.


1st-- a brass Sextant of 10 Inches radius, graduated to 15' which by the assistance of the nonius was devisible to 15"; and half of this sum by means of the micrometer could readily be distinguished, therefore--7.5" of an angle was perceptible with this instrument; she was also furnished with three eye-pieces, consisting of a hollow tube and two telescopes one of which last reversed the images of observ ed objects. finding on experiment that the reversing telescope when employed as the eye-piece gave me a more full and perfect image than either of the others, I have most generally imployed it in all the observations made with this instrument; when thus prepared I found from a series of observations that the quantity of her index error was 8' 45"--; this sum is therefore considered as the standing error of the instrument unless otherwise expressly mentioned. the altitudes of all objects, observed as well with this instrument as with the Octant were by mens of a reflecting surface; and those stated to have been taken with the sextant are the degrees, minutes, &c shewn by the graduated limb of the instrument at the time of observation and are of course the double altitudes of the objects observed.



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