What two technologies helped European explorers navigate the oceans?

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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A number of new technologies allowed Europeans to explore the Atlantic Ocean during the 16th Century.  A new ship design called the caravel made it possible to sail with the wind and also cruise against the wind.  The ship utilized multiple masts, which allowed it to behave this way.  In addition to the sails, the ship was designed to be much sturdier and could weather the storms common on the open seas.

Now that mariners had a better vessel to travel, they still needed to know where they were going.  During this time, explorers could determine exact latitude on the ocean because of two new technologies.  The magnetic compass utilized the Earth's magnetism to determine true north.  The sextant was used to measure celestial angles by using the horizon.  

These two technologies enabled explorers to travel the open ocean without getting lost or sunk at sea.

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