# Determining Latitude from Maximum Solar Altitude

Determining Latitude from Maximum Solar Altitude

Navigators have traditionally used sextants to determine the latitude of their ships. Sextants work by measuring the altitude of a celestial body (the angle between the observer’s local horizon and the celestial body). By measuring the altitude of the Sun when it reaches its maximum (local noon), it is possible to compute the latitude of the observer. This Demonstration allows the calculation of latitude, based on a given altitude measurement of the Sun and the time of year.