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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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

observation (meteorological)

The evaluation of one or more meteorological elements (ICAO).
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
References in periodicals archive ?
And be sure to check out the International Observe the Moon Night website.
After reading a description of the fluid structure of a typical library storytime, the Research Ethics Board at our university allowed us to collect data under the proviso that we would not observe individuals for whom we did not have informed consent and that we would stop observation if anyone expressed discomfort with being present in a storytime where others were being observed.
Observe what happens to the rubber band as you drop the bottle from a height of 1 meter (3.3 feet).
It then hastens to distinguish these interpretations from those held by "the Church as such" (49) and observes that these interpretations "have been totally and definitively rejected by the Second Vatican Council" (49).
"It only makes sense for those who observe Kwanzaa to get their ceremonial items and gifts from black businesses."
We need only observe a mother's natural superabundance of love for her children to debunk such an idea.
For him, The Man Who is not a play but a "theatrical research," by which he seeks a "language of music and gestures that would enable an audience to watch a play in the way a doctor observes his patients." No mere clinical experiment, the production's multiethnic quartet of performers from the Centre International de Creations Theatrales (Brook's Paris home and company since the early '70s) displays human behavior in its most tragicomic mode: fractured I's before our very eyes.
While talking to media at polling station No-113, F-6/2, constituency NA-53, the Chief Observer of the delegation, Michael Gahler said that 120 members of the EU observers going to observe 87 different constituencies which is 32 percent of total constituencies of the country.
As per notification of the Punjab government, a holiday will be observed on Monday, Feb 5 to observe the Kashmir Solidarity Day.
And then comes that moment of indecision: What am I going to observe tonight?
After the subject had observed the correct comparison, there was no need to continue to observe the other comparisons.
--Invite regular classroom teachers from the whole district to take part in or observe classes.

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