European astrolabe, 1495-1505

Made:
1495-1505 in Italy
European astrolabe, 1495-1505

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European astrolabe, 1495-1505
Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Italian brass planispheric astrolabe with a single plate for the latitudes 42 & 45 degrees and for 48 degrees on the inside of the womb with shadow dial and unequal scale on the reverse, c. 1500, IC 441 [international checklist].

Italian brass planispheric astrolabe with a single plate for the latitudes 42 & 45 degrees and for 48 degrees on the inside of the womb with shadow dial and unequal scale on the reverse, c. 1500

Dated to the start of the sixteenth century, this unsigned brass astrolabe is thought to be Italian in origin. This front view shows the moveable fretwork plate called the rete that denotes star positions by short curved pointers. The astrolabe is in essence a model of the universe that an astronomer could hold in their hands. Popular in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, its many uses included timekeeping, astrology and surveying. The astrolabe is a two-dimensional depiction of the heavens whose layout is achieved using the mathematical technique of stereographic projection. From its origins in the Ancient World, Islamic astronomers developed the astrolabe from where it spread to Europe.

Details

Category:
Astronomy
Object Number:
1938-428
Measurements:
overall: 160 x 25 x 108 mm
type:
astrolabe
taxonomy:
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
  • disciplines
  • disciplines
  • science
  • natural sciences
  • physical sciences
credit:
Mr W.E. Miller