Solid Brass Sextant In Great Condition A sextant is a doubly reflecting navigation instrument used to measure the angle between any two visible objects. The primary use of a sextant is to determine the angle between an astronomical object and the horizon for the purposes of celestial navigation. The determination of this angle, the altitude, is known as sighting (or shooting) the object, or taking a sight. The angle, and the time when it was measured, can be used to calculate a position line on a nautical or aeronautical chart. Common uses of the sextant include sighting the sun at solar noon or Polarisat night (in the Northern Hemisphere) to determine latitude. Sighting the height of a landmark can give a measure of distance off and, held horizontally, a sextant can measure angles between objects for a position on a chart.