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 Museum Explorer

Tools and technology
in Europe

Astrolabe

Height: 11 cm
Width: 9 cm
Depth: 2.18 cm

 

PE 1893,0616.3

Astrolabe

From: Spain
Date: 1350 AD

The astrolabe was used as a kind of early computer to tell the time, to display a model of the sky, to cast horoscopes and to do surveying. This astrolabe probably comes from Spain. It uses Arabic, Hebrew and European writing and designs, showing that scholars from Jewish, Arabic and European backgrounds all worked peacefully together at this time using the same instruments.

The astrolabe would be hung by the ring to keep it level, the user would then look along the metal bar that goes across the middle, and would move it until it lined up with a certain star or the sun. The bar would then point at a number around the edge, and the user could tell the time or the height of the star or the sun.