Brass Surveyor's Transit Theodolite
“A THEODOLITE is a precision optical instrument for measuring angles between designated visible points in the horizontal and vertical planes. The traditional use has been for land surveying, but it is also used extensively for building and infrastructure construction, and some specialized applications such as meteorology and rocket launching.
It consists of a moveable telescope mounted so it can rotate around horizontal and vertical axes and provide angular readouts. These indicate the orientation of the telescope, and are used to relate the first point sighted through the telescope to subsequent sightings of other points from the same theodolite position. These angles can be measured with accuracies down to microradians or seconds of arc. From these readings a plan can be drawn, or objects can be positioned in accordance with an existing plan. The modern theodolite has evolved into what is known as a total station where angles and distances are measured electronically, and are read directly to computer memory.
In a transit theodolite, the telescope is short enough to rotate about the trunnion axis, turning the telescope through the vertical plane through the zenith; for non-transit instruments vertical rotation is restricted to a limited arc.