Tuesday, 10 June 2014

When Science Meets Art

"Art is I; science is we."
– Claude Bernarde
This is an instrument from the Oxford History of Science collection. It's called an astrolabe, an ancient astronomical instrument used for working out how the stars appear on a given date, through the adjustment of moveable components to a specific date and time. The first true examples of astrolabes appeared over 1,600 years ago and the design continues to this day with the planispheres that you can still buy.

The above Flemish example is from 1565 and is typical of the period where scientific instruments were privately commissioned, often from watchmakers, and their designs went far beyond a purely practical nature to embrace art. In the age of the app, when a star guide is just a click away, the beauty of the astrolabes like this one, still conjures a sense of awe, especially when you realise that their original owners used them to first unlock the mysteries of the heavens above. 

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