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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 Royal Air Force multi-engined aircraft of the Second World War, and on aircraft ordered by them, such as the Liberator and Dakota, as a considerable part of their operations and other flying were carried out at night.
- astrodome, definition at Webster's Online Dictionary
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