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April 2005

Marine Navigation in the Age of Exploration
The four basic tools the great explorers used to find their way.
Grade Level: Pre-K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

The Seattle Art Museum presents this interactive site that illustrates the use of four ancient nautical instruments that were used by Spanish explorers to observe the position of the sun and stars and fix their position on the open seas.
This very appealing site is easily navigated with clearly marked links to the four main areas. Flash Player is required.

Teachers and students learning about the Age of Exploration will find this to be an interesting addition to the curriculum materials. The site explores the use of four navigational instruments that were used by Spanish explorations in North America: the Quadrant, Astrolabe, Octant, and Chronometer. A section for each instrument includes a description of how it was used, historical information, pictures and a “did you know” button for additional facts. An interactive feature allows visitors to use the Octant to see how it worked and a movie is available that demonstrates how the real octant works. Additionally, the site includes a brief explanation of latitude and longitude and how the same principles are used in navigation today.


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