Bubble Sextant

This instrument was developed for the Navy by the Aeronautical Instrument Section of the National Bureau of Standards in 1924, and produced by the Bausch & Lomb Optical Company. The instrument bears a plaque that reads “BUBBLE SEXTANT / U.S. NAVY / BUREAU OF STANDARDS / MODEL NO. 2 / 1924 / NO. 4.” Phillip Van Horn Weems, who donated this example to the Smithsonian, noted that "Six sextants were made at the time for $250,000 each. Bausch & Lomb lost money on the deal but naturally recuperated on later orders and on later models. I drew this sextant from the storeroom in North Island, at the Naval Air Station, San Diego, and made numerous tests with it, along with Byrd, Lindbergh, Ellsworth, etc. etc."
Object Name
Weems, Philip Van Horn
Bausch & Lomb
overall: 6 in x 8 3/4 in x 7 in; 15.24 cm x 22.225 cm x 17.78 cm
associated place
United States
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Armed Forces History: Armed Forces History, Naval
Measuring & Mapping
Time and Navigation
Time and Navigation, National Air and Space Museum
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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