
plumb line: a suspended thread with a weight at its end, indicating the vertical.

plummet: a form of plumb line in which the 'line' and weight are a single rigid piece.

polar dial: type of sundial, see article on the sundial.

polyhedral dial: sundial with hour lines on various faces of a solid figure, see article on the sundial.

prime vertical: celestial great circle passing through the east and west points and the zenith.

primum mobile: instrument for finding the sines and versed signs of angles, see article on the primum mobile.

projection: translation of a figure on to a plane or curved surface using straight lines in a systematic way. For example, a spherical surface can be projected on to a plane (the plane of projection) by means of straight lines drawn from all points on the surface to a certain defined point (the point of projection) and marking where they intersect the plane. In a stereographic projection, such as is used for the ordinary astrolabe, points on a containing circle are projected on to an equatorial plane from one pole; in an orthographic projection, such as is used in a Rojas design of universal astrolabe, the point of projection is at infinity and the projection lines are parallel.

proportional compasses: drawing instrument consisting of two legs each with points at either end; used for transferring dimensions in enlarged or reduced ratio.

proportional dividers: drawing instrument consisting of two legs each with points at either end; used for transferring dimensions in enlarged or reduced ratio.

proportional instrument: unusual instrument used to mechanically perform functions in trigonometry.

protractor: instrument for setting out and measuring degrees.

quadragesima: the 40 days of Lent or the first Sunday in Lent.

quadrans vetus: type of horary quadrant, see article on the quadrant.

quadrant: instrument based on a quarter of a circle, see article on the quadrant.
