History of Science Museum: Collection Database Search


Exhibition Label - 'The Moon'; National Maritime Museum, 19 July 2019 - 5 January 2020

Astrolabe with geared calendar

by Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr, 1221-2 CE

Invented in Ancient Greece and later developed by Islamic scholars, the astrolabe is a complex astronomical calculator. This version has been taken apart to show its unusual lunar features. The front section (shown on the left) has a cut-out plate that is rotated to predict the rising and setting times of bright stars. The right-hane section has a Moon phase indicator controlled by a concealed geared movement, visible in the mirror behind. Muslim astronomers use the first sighting of the Crescent Moon as the defining moment of each new Islamic month.

LOA2433: History of Science Museum, University of Oxford, Inv. 48213

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