Astrodome (aeronautics)

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The astrodome (arrowed) on a Warwick B/ASR Mk 1

An astrodome is a hemispherical transparent dome fitted in the cabin roof of an aircraft to allow the use of a sextant during astro-navigation.[1]

Prior to the introduction of electronic means of navigation the only way to fix an aircraft's position at night was by taking star sights using a sextant in the same manner as that used by marine navigators for hundreds of years on board ships. To do this requires a 360-degree view of the horizon and the astrodome was devised to allow an uninterrupted view of the sky from horizon to horizon.

Astrodomes were prominent on multi-engined aircraft of the Second World War, such as the Liberator and Dakota, as a considerable part of their operations and other flying were carried out at night.


  1. ^ astrodome, definition at Webster's Online Dictionary