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Astronomical Sector illustration

Astronomical Sector illustration

C017/3487

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Credit

DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Plate from 18th century encyclopedia showing an illustration of an astronomical sector. The sector, also known as a proportional compass or military compass, was a major calculating instrument in use from the end of the sixteenth century until the nineteenth century. It is an instrument consisting of two rulers of equal length joined by a hinge. A number of scales are inscribed upon the instrument which facilitate various mathematical calculations. It was used for solving problems in proportion, trigonometry, multiplication and division, and for various functions, such as squares and cube roots. Its several scales permitted easy and direct solutions of problems in gunnery, surveying and navigation. The sector derives its name from the fourth proposition of the sixth book of Euclid, where it is demonstrated that similar triangles have their like sides proportional.

Release details

Model release not required. Property release not required.

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