Bubble sextantMaritime Museum of BC

This object might look familiar if you have done celestial navigation, using angular measurements between celestial bodies like the sun and the horizon. This is a sextant. It is a bit different than the ones mariners use, because this one is for pilots. It’s a bubble sextant. The air bubble suspended in the liquid indicates that the sextant is level horizontally. It’s like the levels that carpenters use. This model was manufactured in 1942.

Here where the museum is, on the territories of the Lekwungen speaking peoples, we can see circumpolar stars throughout the year, and Polaris, the north star, can guide us north. Star stories, oral traditions mapping and explaining constellations, are important to many Indigenous peoples across the world, and communities have their own unique traditions of using celestial bodies to tell time, keep a calendar, find directions, and navigate. This sextant is another tool among many for figuring out where you are, and where you want to go.