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Drum model orrery, 1813-1822.

Drum model orrery, 1813-1822.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm


This planetary model was designed by the astronomer William Pearson (1767-1847) and made in London by John Fidler. Called an orrery or planetarium, it is a demonstration model to show the motions of the Earth, Moon and planets around the Sun. It has a bras drum base with a pedestal stand and seven planets (Mercury-Uranus) on long rod-arms. Such devices became popular during the 17th century, especially after Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) published his universal theory of gravity in 1687. To reproduce the motions of the solar system this model employs a hand crank to drive the gear wheels. This elaborate orrery is the only surviving example of several planetary models devised by William Pearson.

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© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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