Astrolabe Catalogue

astrolabe, inventory number 52869 from Europe, ca. 1400
thumbnail for astrolabe (front), inventory number 52869 from Europe, ca. 1400
thumbnail for astrolabe (back), inventory number 52869 from Europe, ca. 1400
thumbnail for astrolabe (rete front), inventory number 52869 from Europe, ca. 1400
Dateca. 1400
Inventory no.52869
AcquisitionPresented by J. A. Billmeir in 1957
This astrolabe contains a universal projection (i.e. one that can be used in any latitude) of the type developed by az-Zarqāllu in Toledo in the eleventh century. We know from manuscript sources that it was known in medieval Christian Europe, but it was little used until it was revived in the sixteenth century by Gemma Frisius as his astrolabum catholicum. It is believed that this is the only known western-made example to survive from the middle ages.

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Throne, Ring and Shackle

The throne is of the simple type made of brass attached with integrated base made of brass and has a simple, squared cross-section ring made of brass and omega type shackle made of brass . More information


The mater and limb are of two pieces, soldered and riveted construction. Scales on the limb: equal hours scale. More information


The script on the back of the instrument suggests that it was engraved at a later date. Unlike the rete and the womb, which were engraved in a Lombardic capital script, the back was engraved in Roman capitals. The back contains 5 scales of the following types: Degree; Zodiacal signs; Calendar; Unequal hours; Shadow square. More information

Rete, Nut & Bolt

The rete contains 23 stars. The zodiac on the rete is labelled: ARIES , TAUR9 , GEMINI , CANCER , LEO , VIRGO , LIBRA , SCORPI9 , SAGITARI9 , CAPRICORN9 , AQUARI9 , PISCIS.

The rete contains 2 scales of the following types: Ecliptic; Calendar.
The rete is attached using a nut & bolt. The threaded pin and nut are probably later replacements. More information


There are 2 plates with latitudes ranging from 42°0' to 51°0' . More information


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