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- (nautical) An early navigational instrument for measuring the altitude of the sun and hence calculating latitude
- The Nuttall Encyclopedia
Back"staff` (&?;), n. An instrument
formerly used for taking the altitude of the heavenly bodies, but now
superseded by the quadrant and sextant; -- so called because the observer
turned his back to the body observed.
- Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
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The correct spelling of this word ought to be: Backstaff
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