The cross-staff, or Jacob's Staff, is device for measuring the angle between objects. Similar to the sextant, octant, and quadrant, the cross-staff can be used to measure the location of objects in the sky, or to determine the distance to objects on the horizon.
Unlike the sextant, the cross-staff has no mirrors or filters to help one dim the light of the sun. It is also very awkward to use on a rocking boat. To help fix some of these issues, the cross-staff was developed into the "backstaff" by John Davis in 1594. This improved instrument allowed one to take measurements of the sun's position using shadows, and without having to look directly into the sun.
Sextant, Backstaff, Davis Quarant, Spiegelboog, Kamal
1300s - 1700s