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astrolabe

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1893,0616.1

  • Description

    The RIM of the MATER of this Flemish brass astrolabe bears an equal 24-hour scale on the outside numbered twice from I to XII starting at the throne.. The inside has a 360° altitude scale, graduated, 0° to 90°, 90° to 0°, 0° to 90°, 90° to 0° starting from the east and west points. The rim is riveted to the backplate. The inside of the rim has a recess at 12 o'clock underneath the throne to accommodate the tongues of the plates.

    The INSIDE of the MATER is engraved with a Quadratum Nauticum. The compass directions are indicated by the names of the winds, with the cardinal directions marked as: 'Septe<n>trio', 'Oriens', 'Meridies', 'Occidens'. Reading north, east, south, west, they are (from the inside): 'Tramontana', 'Greco tra{montana}', 'Greco', 'Greco leu{ante}', 'Leuante', 'Scirocco leu{ante}', 'Scirocco', 'Ostro sci{rocco}', 'Ostro', 'Ostrogar{bino}', 'Garbino', 'Ponente gar{bino}', 'Ponente', 'Ponente maes{tro}', 'Maestro', 'Maestro tra{montana}'; (in the middle:) 'Aparctias', 'Aguilo', 'Cecias', 'Subsolanis', 'Eurus', 'Phenix', 'Auster', 'Libonotus', 'Africus', 'Zephirus', 'Corus', 'Circius'; and (in the spandrels): 'Grecus', 'Syrochus', 'Lybicus', and 'Magistralis'.
    The sides of the square have scales from 0° to 90° and inscriptions as follows (reading from the north): 'Longitudo maior vel Orientalior', 'Latitudo minor et Australior', 'Longitudo minor sive Occidentalior' and 'Latitudo maior aut Borealior'.

    The THRONE is fixed to the rim by two screws. It consists of an arc-shaped base carrying two reclining satyrs (male on the left, female on the right) supporting a compass (magnetic deviation circa 12° East; compass needle missing) inset into a shield shaped suspension surmounted by the shackle. The swivel pin and the suspension ring are missing. The base is signed and dated, with the place of production indicated.

    The RETE follows the typical pattern of Arsenius type astrolabes. The names of 43 stars are given with their corresponding planetary temperaments and their magnitudes. Some star names are abbreviated so that instead of the name of the zodiacal sign the symbol is given: 'Cauda ceti [Saturn] 3', 'Andro<medae> u<m>bilic<us> [Venus] 3', 'Venter ceti [Saturn]', 'Iuba ceti', 'Meduse caput [Saturn] [Jupiter] 2', 'Nares ceti 3', 'Persei lat{us}dex{trum}', 'Oculus [Taurus] [Mars] 1', 'Hircus [Mars] [Mercury] 1', 'Ori{onis} si<nister> hu<m>e{rus}', 'Orionis sin{ister}pes [Jupiter] [Saturn] 1', 'Orio<n>is dex{ter} hu<m>er<us> [Mars] [Mercury] 1', 'Canis maior [Jupiter] [Mars] 1', 'Canicula [Mars] 1', 'Cor [Leo] [Mars] 1', 'Hydre clara', 'Cervix [Leo] [Saturn] 2', 'Ursa maior [Mars] 2', 'Crateris fu<n>d<us> 4', 'Cauda [Leo] [Saturn] [Venus] 1', 'Corui ala dex{tra} [Jupiter] [Mars] 2', 'Spica [Virgo] [Mars] [Mercury] 1', 'Arcturus [Jupiter] [Mars] 1', 'Bootis si<nister> hu<m>{erus} [Mercury] [Jupiter] 3', 'Lanx boree clarior', 'Corona S{eptentrionalis}' [reengraved], 'Cor [Scorpio] [Jupiter] [Mars] 2', 'Ophiuchi sin{istra} man<us>', 'Caput herculis [Mars] [Mercury] 2', 'Ophiuchi caput [Saturn] [Venus] 3', 'Ophiuchi ma{nus} dex{tra}', 'Caput draco{nis} [Saturn] [Mars] 3', 'Lyra [Venus] [Mercury] 1', 'Aguila [Mars] [Jupiter] 2', 'Cauda cigni [Venus] [Mars] 2', 'Cauda [Capricorn] [Jupiter] [Saturn] 3', 'Cephei dex{ter} hu{merus} [Jupiter] [Saturn]', 'Pegasi rictus [Mars] [Mercury] 2', 'Crus [Aquarius] 3', 'Pegasi hu<m>er<us> [Jupiter] [Mercury] 2', 'Crus pegasi [Mars] [Jupiter] 2', 'Ala pegasi' and 'Cassi{opeie} pec{tus}'.

    The ECLIPTIC is marked with the usual Latin names of the zodiacal signs (some abbreviated) with their symbols and the Latin names of the months.

    There are THREE PLATES which are each marked on both sides (except 3b) with the circles for the equator (marked 'AEquinoctialis' or 'AEquator') and the tropics (marked 'Tropicus Cancri' and both 'Tropicus Capricorni' and 'Circulus Capricorni'), azimuths for every 5°, the almucantars for every 2° , the curves for the unequal hours and the markings for the astrological houses in the manner of Regiomontanus (both marked in Arabic numerals from 1 to 12). The 'Horizon Obliquus' and the 'Horizon rectus' are indicated and marked. Three cardinal directions are marked as 'Oriens', 'Septentrio and 'Occidens'. Some of the markings are abbreviated or give the symbol where the name of the zodiacal sign would be expected.
    The plates are laid out and marked for the following latitudes ('Pro elevatione poli'): 1a) 39°; 1b) 42°; 2a) 45° (the 'Ae' of 'Aequator' is missing); 2b) 48°; 3a) 51°.
    Plate 3b) bears markings for the Horizontale catholicum with horizons for every 2°. The 'HORIZO<N> RECTUS' , the 'Aequinoctialis' and the cardinal points 'Oriens', 'Occidens' and 'Septe<n>trio' are marked. The bottom half of the vacant space outside these circles is taken up by a double SHADOW SCALE marked 'UMBRA RECTA' and 'UMBRA VERSA' to the bases of 12 and 60 respectively. The top half inside the horizons contains an hour diagram for converting equal hours into unequal hours and vice versa. The unequal hours ('Hore inequales') are marked 1 to 12. The equal hour lines ('HORAE AEQUALES') are given for every half hour and marked 1 to 12 to 1: 'Hore ante meridiem' and 'Hore post meridiem'. The equal hour lines are laid out in the form of segments of vertical hyperbolic spirals.

    The BACK of the instrument is engraved with a Gemma Frisius' universal projection with the position of 21 stars marked with a star, but not identified. The ecliptic is marked with the symbols of the zodiacal signs. The four quadrants are each marked on the outside on the rim 0° to 90°. The tropics are graduated 1 to 12.

    The RULE is graduated along both margins, starting at the top in the centre from 0° to 90°, continuing from 90° to 270° along the whole length on the bottom and from 270° to 360° back on the top. The zodiacal signs are represented by their symbols. In the vacant space between the lines for the zodiacal signs the following star names are given (starting at the tropic of Capricorn): 'Spica [Virgo] 8', '40 Eridanus postrema', '32 Extr [Aquarius] fuse', '36 Cauda [Scorpio]', '51 Canopus', '15 Canis maior', '9 Orionis sin{ister} pes' and 'Mori stelle'. The ALIDADE is mounted on the front and fixed with a winged screw. It is marked with the 'Hore Ortus [Sun]' (numbered 1 to 10) and the 'Hore occasus' (numbered 1 to 12) on one arm. On the other arm are markings for the 'Declinatio septentrionalis' from 0° to 90°, and for the 'Declinatio Meridion{alis}' from 0° to 23 1/2 °.

    More 

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1580
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 271 millimetres
    • Thickness: 7 millimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        signature and date
      • Inscription Position

        throne, base
      • Inscription Language

        Latin
      • Inscription Content

        Adrianus Descrolieres facit . . . Lutetie anno 1580
      • Inscription Comment

        signature of maker, date and place of production
  • Curator's comments

    This finely made astrolabe is a typical example of the Flemish influence on European instrument making in the 16th century.
    [S. Ackermann, in EPACT 1998, http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=74126]See also an electro-type copy of this astrolabe owned by the London collector and dealer, Stuart Talbot - published in the Bulletin of the Scientific Instrument Society, No.

    More 

  • Bibliography

    • Ward 1981 337 bibliographic details
    • EPACT 1998 http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/epact/catalogue.php?ENumber=74126 bibliographic details
  • Location

    HSR/dc25-6

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1893

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    1893,0616.1

Astrolabe; brass; a) near outer rim, I-XII, I-XII; within this, 0-90-0-90-0; rete of Arnesius type with 49 star-pointers; calendar on ecliptic ring, equinoxes at 10 March and 13 September; within womb: quadratum nauticum surrounded by four shadow squares; three plates with almucantars every 2 degrees and azimuths every 5 degrees; lines of unequal hours of night and Houses of Heaven; scale for interconverting hours a.m. and p.m. and unequal hours; set of horizon lines; shadow squares of umbra recta and umbra versa; throne with compass and signature; alidade; b) universal planisphere of Gemma Frisius.

Astrolabe; brass; a) near outer rim, I-XII, I-XII; within this, 0-90-0-90-0; rete of Arnesius type with 49 star-pointers; calendar on ecliptic ring, equinoxes at 10 March and 13 September; within womb: quadratum nauticum surrounded by four shadow squares; three plates with almucantars every 2 degrees and azimuths every 5 degrees; lines of unequal hours of night and Houses of Heaven; scale for interconverting hours a.m. and p.m. and unequal hours; set of horizon lines; shadow squares of umbra recta and umbra versa; throne with compass and signature; alidade; b) universal planisphere of Gemma Frisius.

Image description

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Object reference number: MCC3784

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