Three European schools of astrolabe making, represented in St. Petersburg museums

    The paper reviews the history of three European-made astrolabes deposited in the museums of St. Petersburg, some general principles used in their making, and their distinctive design features. These instruments represent three different designs of such devices – classical planispheric astrolabe that had been developed back in the Ancient Greece; universal astrolabe originating from the 11<sup>th<sup> century; and a comparatively rare 16<sup>th</sup> century design based on Rojas’ projection – that belong to three schools of making astrolabes, the German, Flemish, and Italian schools. Therefore these three astrolabes provide a glimpse into three different principles of projecting spherical astronomical coordinates and stars onto the plane of the instrument and, at the same time, give an idea of its standard unchanging components and of the evolution of the designer’s thought over a period of fifteen hundred years. All of these instruments are also the intricate works of art of “noble” origin: three to four centuries ago each of these had been handled by an eminent owner. The paper also describes the German, Flemish, and Italian schools of scientific instrument-making which existed in the 16<sup>th</sup> century, the golden era of the astrolabes. The Italian astrolabe is discussed in more detail: it was relatively recently discovered in the Central Naval Museum and its maker has not been identified yet.


Recommended bibliographic description

, Three European schools of astrolabe making, represented in St. Petersburg museums, Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki [Studies in History of Science and Technology], , p.  668-683

    © Studies in the History of Science and Technology: Quarterly scientific journal of the Russian Academy of Sciences (2015)
    ISSN 0205-9606. Индекс 70143