Indo-Persian Planispheric Astrolabe

Indo-Persian Planispheric Astrolabe

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Description
The astrolabe is an astronomical calculating device used from ancient times into the nineteenth century. Measuring the height of a star using the alidade on the back of the instrument, and knowing the latitude, one could find the time of night and the position of other stars. The openwork piece on the front, called the rete, is a star map of the northern sky. Pointers on the rete correspond to stars; the outermost circle is the Tropic of Capricorn, and the circle that is off-center represents the zodiac, the apparent annual motion of the sun. Engraved plates that fit below the rete have scales of altitude and azimuth (arc of the horizon) for specific latitudes. This brass Indo-Persian astrolabe has a back plate with throne, rim, front throne, handle, ring, brass chain, alidade with pin, two retes, five plates, and a wedge at the front that holds the instrument together. The instrument is unsigned
References:
For a detailed description of this object, see Sharon Gibbs with George Saliba, Planispheric Astrolabes from the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984, pp. 165-169. The object is referred to in the catalog as CCA No. 2569.
See also S. R. Sarma, A Descriptive Catalog of Indian Astronomical Instruments, 2019, pp. 1408-1424, accessed April 26, 2019. The document is downloadable from instructions at https://srsarma.in/catalogue.php. The object has Sarma’s number A129.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
astrolabe
date made
ca 1650
place made
France
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 34.8 cm x 15.4 cm x 3.9 cm x 6 in; 13 11/16 in x 6 1/16 in x 1 17/32 in x 15.24 cm
thin plates (five): 5 in; x 12.7 cm
ID Number
ME.94624
catalog number
94624
accession number
21295
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Mathematics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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