[exercise 1 description] volvelles and astrolabes

You are asked to reconstruct a volvelle which is (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) a “device consisting of one or more movable circles surrounded by other graduated or figured circles, serving to ascertain the rising and setting of the sun and moon, the state of the tides, etc.” You may replicate an existing instrument (e.g. an astrolabe or any paper volvelle, though you are to limit your selection to the period covered by the lecture course) or construct one textually described at length. For help with making your selection, see the ‘General Tips’ and ‘Sources’ sections.

The main purpose of the exercise is for you to gain an understanding of what the instrument seeks to measure and for what possible purposes; therefore it is important that you thoroughly understand how the instrument works and should be able to demonstrate this. Do not pick something too complicated; this task is not meant to be onerous – it should be fun.

While online or digital tools may be utilized as preparatory research, it is imperative that the final reconstruction be done by hand with the use of a compass and straight-edge (i.e. not simply ‘traced’). It should be made out of thick stock paper.


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