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Tycho Brahe's armillary equatorial, 1580.

Tycho Brahe's armillary equatorial, 1580.
4 0 c m
actual image size: 20cm x 32cm


'Arcus bipartitus minoribus - siderum distantus inferviens': engraving taken from Tycho Brahe's (1546-1601) 'Astronomiae Instauratae - Mechanicae' (1602), showing the armillary equatorial instrument that the famous Danish astronomer used at his purpose-built observatory on the island of Hven, near Helsingborg in Sweden. Brahe used this instrument to make naked eye observations of the stars, Moon and planets. It could be moved in both vertical and horizontal directions, with actual measurements taken from the pair of sighting vanes (P-R & M-Q) on each side of the rings. His precise measurements of their positions formed the basis of the first new star catalogue to be compiled since Antiquity.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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