Raingo orrery clock, French, 1830-1832.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This ornate planetary model was made by the Parisian clock makers, Raingo FrEres. Called an orrery, or more correctly a tellurium, it is a demonstration device to show the motions of the Earth and Moon around the Sun. It consists of a wooden drum base containing a music box, surmounted by a four-legged stand supporting the orrery and a timepiece. The spring driven pendulum clock drives the planetary model at the same rate as the heavens. A glas dome originally covered the whole mechanism. Such apparatus became popular during the 17th century, especially after Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) published his universal theory of gravity in 1687. Only about a dozen of these particular clocks were made, most of them for Royalty or Ministers of State.