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a. a sight taken with an instrument to determine the position of an observer relative to that of a given heavenly body
b. the data so taken



a method for obtaining information about the enemy, the location and action of friendly troops, and the nature of the terrain.

Observation is organized and conducted by all combat arms and special forces in all types of combat. Ground and air observation is supplemented by data obtained through artillery reconnaissance, sound ranging, radar, and signal communications. Optical instruments, such as binoculars, stereoscopic telescopes, range finders, and periscopes, are used for observation. At night and in other conditions of restricted visibility, night-vision instruments and illuminating devices are used, such as searchlights and illuminating flares.



deliberate and purposeful perception that is conditioned by the need to solve a problem.

As a specifically human act, observation differs fundamentally from the various forms of perception among animals. Historically, observation has developed as part of the labor process, which involves the establishment of a correspondence between the product of labor and its planned ideal image. As society and the labor process become more complex, observation emerges as a relatively independent aspect of activity (scientific observation, the reading of information off instruments, and observation as part of the artistic process). As science develops, observation becomes more complex and dependent on mechanical aids.

The basic requirements of scientific observation are unity of purpose, uniform methodology, and objectivity (that is, the possibility of control by means of repeated observation or by other methods of investigation, such as experimentation). At the same time, observation is usually also part of the experimental procedure. Interpretation of the results of observation acquires increasingly prominent importance, because in modern science generalizations are seldom made at the level of observable facts, which may consist only of signs or symptoms of the phenomena under study (such as a curve on an oscillograph, or an electroencephalogram).

Observation in the social sciences presents a special problem, since the results of such observation depend to a great extent on the observer’s personality, purpose, and attitude toward his object. Depending on the observer’s position in relation to the phenomenon observed, a distinction is made in sociology and social psychology between simple, or ordinary, observation, when events are registered “from the outside,” and participant, or involved, observation, when the researcher becomes part of a particular social milieu, adapts to it, and analyzes events as if “from within.”

In psychology, observation itself becomes the object of study. It has been established that the quality of observation is basically determined by the observer’s attitude toward and understanding of the task set. Self-observation (introspection), which is a particular kind of observation, is applied in psychology as a method of research. Perceptiveness as a personal quality sometimes appears as an inborn character trait; but, in order to be put to full use, this trait must be given a specific direction.


Basov, M. Ia. Metodika psikhologicheskikh nabliudenii nad det’mi, 3rd ed. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Rogovin, M. S. Vvedenie v psikhologiiu. Moscow, 1969. Chapter 6.
Iadov, V. A. Sotsiologicheskoe issledovanie: Metodologiia, programma, melody. Moscow, 1972. Chapter 4, paragraph 1.




determination of the geographical coordinates of a vessel on the ocean from sightings of objects with known coordinates. Observations are made by navigational methods (according to landmarks noted on a map or signals from radio beacons or radio navigation systems, by means of navigation artificial earth satellites, or by nautical astronomy using heavenly bodies whose coordinates are given in the Nautical Almanac). All methods of observation result in graphic determination of a point on a chart or analytical computation of its coordinates. Periodic observations are needed to check the accuracy of dead reckoning.

observation (meteorological)

The evaluation of one or more meteorological elements (ICAO).
References in classic literature ?
For example, observation shows me that you have been to the Wigmore Street Post-Office this morning, but deduction lets me know that when there you dispatched a telegram.
But Herschel's calculations were in their turn corrected by the observations of Halley, Nasmyth, Bianchini, Gruithuysen, and others; but it was reserved for the labors of Boeer and Maedler finally to solve the question.
The telegram added that the elements of this new star had not yet been calculated; and indeed three observations made upon a star in three different positions are necessary to determine these elements.
Wilson was more brilliant than ever, with her budgets of fresh news and old scandal, strung together with trivial questions and remarks, and oft-repeated observations, uttered apparently for the sole purpose of denying a moment's rest to her inexhaustible organs of speech.
As this is one of those deep observations which very few readers can be supposed capable of making themselves, I have thought proper to lend them my assistance; but this is a favour rarely to be expected in the course of my work.
There is no LOGICAL objection to this theory, but there is the objection, which we spoke of earlier, that the act seems mythical, and is not to be found by observation.
Your picture is so fine that my observation cannot detract from it, and, besides, it is only my personal opinion.
The eloquent Pickwick, with one hand gracefully concealed behind his coat tails, and the other waving in air to assist his glowing declamation; his elevated position revealing those tights and gaiters, which, had they clothed an ordinary man, might have passed without observation, but which, when Pickwick clothed them--if we may use the expression--inspired involuntary awe and respect; surrounded by the men who had volunteered to share the perils of his travels, and who were destined to participate in the glories of his discoveries.
Puerile as such an exercise may seem, it sharpens the faculties of observation, and teaches one where to look and what to look for.
Make yourself at home,' adding to this retort an observation to the effect that his friend appeared to be rather 'cranky' in point of temper, Richards Swiveller finished the rosy and applied himself to the composition of another glassful, in which, after tasting it with great relish, he proposed a toast to an imaginary company.
If a fair number of the better educated men went to work with the belief that their observations might contribute to the reform of medical doctrine and practice, we should soon see a change for the better.
I remember having read some observations, showing that in England the leaves fall earlier in a warm and fine autumn than in a late and cold one, The change in the colour being here retarded in the more elevated, and therefore colder situations, must he owing to the same general law of vegetation.