Exhibition: The Astrolabe, East and West


Astrolabes have a cosmic reach: the name says that they take hold of the stars. The user seems to control an instrument of great power, presenting night skies for any time in the future, or recalling skies that are long past. Most astrolabes deal with the stars and the sun, but the terrestrial globe, the moon and even the planets can come within their grasp. Bringing the cosmos within the reach of a single instrument is part of the ancient fascination of the astrolabe.
Table of thumbnail images with links to individual astrolabes
Geographical astrolabe by Gilles Coignet, Antwerp, 1560 (Inv. 53211)
Geographical Astrolabe, by Morillard, Narbonne, 1600  (Inv. 53966)
Astrolabe, Hispano-Moorish, c.1260 (Inv. 43504)
Astrolabe, North African, 13th century? (Inv. 43504)
Astrolabe, English, c.1370 (Inv. 49359)
Astrolabe Mater, attributed to Jacobus Valerius, Flanders?, 1558  (Inv. 48892)
Astrolabe and Equatorium, southern France or Italy, late 15th century (Inv. 49847)
Astrolabe, Indian, c.1800 (Inv. 30402)
Astrolabe, Sicily, c.1300 (Inv. 40829)
Sun and moon The planets The largest astrolabe in Oxford The smallest astrolabe in Oxford
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