In this video, from the heart of the British Museum’s Albukhary galleries, curator William Greenwood explains the different parts of an astrolabe and how to use it.
Learn more about the video’s showcased astrolabe here.
Essentially, an astrolabe is an ancient astronomical instrument that was a handheld model of the universe. As we see here, in its simplest form, the astrolabe was a metal disc with a pattern of wires, cut-outs, and perforations that allowed a user to calculate astronomical positions precisely.
Historically used by astronomers, an astrolabe measured the altitude above the horizon of a celestial body, day or night, and was used to:
- Identify stars or planets,
- Determine local latitude given local time (and vice versa),
- Survey, or triangulate.
In terms of its history, the astrolabe was used in classical antiquity, the Islamic Golden Age, the European Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery for all of these purposes.
Learn more about the astrolabe here.
View the original video here.
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