This stamp, issued in 1997 by the New Zealand Post Office to celebrate the navigational work of James Cook, depicts his map of New Zealand and his sextant. Sextants were used to determine a ship’s latitude. They work by measuring the angle between two objects. The observer sights along a half-silvered mirror at the horizon and manipulates a second mirror until an image of the sun, moon, or a star is directed onto the half-silvered mirror and overlays the horizon. The angle between the horizon and the celestial object is then read off the scale.
On 9 November 1769, Cook and Charles Green determined the latitude and longitude of Mercury Bay during their observation of the transit of Mercury.
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New Zealand Post
Reference: 1997 Discoverers of New Zealand stamp issue
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