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John Davis: Master Navigator


John Davis
Born about 1550, died 1605

John Davis (also spelled Davys) was a true explorer, combining great skill in navigation with patience and careful work. Three times, he tried to find the Northwest Passage. Though he failed, he went farther north than any explorer had gone before and mapped huge areas. This made it possible for later explorers to go further. He also invented the Davis Quadrant, a tool used for measuring the position of the ship on the Earth.

Davis Invented It!
Davis invented the backstaff in 1595, a navigational tool to measure latitude. It was an improvement on the cross-staff. Navigators could now stand with their backs to the sun and measure its shadow, instead of having to look straight into the sun.


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