Terminology from the Age of Sail

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Search result for definition: compass
Compass: A navigational instrument used since the 12th century for determining a ship's direction and position. A compass was often housed in a binnacle and still consists today of a pivoting magnetic needle which is freely suspended to align itself to the earth's magnetic field, the needle turns until its ends are aligned with the magnetic north and south poles. The ship's direction would be the angle the needle made with the lubber's line or simply the direction forward. Also used to determine azimuth in celestial navigation.

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