NavisphPre Celestial Globe

The Navisphere was designed to be "a nautical instrument of extremely simple construction and easily handled, by means of which nearly all the complex nautical problems may be solved in a few minutes, and without calculation, or, at least, with very little calculation." It consists of a celestial globe that shows only the brightest stars, with a brass superstructure (the Metrosphere) that represents the horizon and two meridians. Henri DeMagnac, a captain in the French navy who was interested in the problems of navigation, probably came up with the original design. Frederic William Eichens, an instrument maker in Paris, obtained a French patent for it in 1878, an American patent in 1881, and other patents in England and Germany. The instrument bears the inscription "NAVISPHERE / DE / . . . / F. W. EICHENS CONSTR / E. BERTAUX, ÉDITEUR / PARIS."
Ref: F. W. Eichens, "Celestial Globe," U.S. patent #247,811.
H. De Magnac, "Le navisphere - instrument nautique," Revue Maritime et Coloniale 61 (1879): 598-616.
H. De Magnac, Le Navisphere: instrument nautique, instruction pour son usage (Paris, 1881); and The Navisphere (England, 1881).
Currently not on view
Object Name
globe, celestial, navigation
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
paper (overall material)
silver (overall material)
average spatial: 21.9 cm; 8 5/8 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Measuring & Mapping
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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