Ivy’s Replication of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Astrolabe


In the Medical time, astrolabe was the instrument for people to find the existing orders/geometry in the heaven which is above the earth, and hopefully to bring the orders down to the chaotic world. It was not only used to determine the time of the day but also for doctors to figure out what could be the best solutions for the patients.

For this project, I used cardboard for both the front and the back which indicate the degree, time, direction, zodiac and calendar. A piece of transparent acetate( the rete) was marked with the main stars and is placed on top of the front which has the horizon, hours and degrees. The rule lies on top of the rete and the front side of the astrolabe while the alidade lies on the back side.

The resulting astrolabe is a simplified and modernizedversion of that described in Geoffrey Chaucer’s c. 1391 Treatise on the Astrolabe. It was designed by Dominic Ford and Katie Birkwood, based on S. Eisner, ‘Building Chaucer’s astrolabe’, Journal of the British Astronomical Association 86 (1975-1976), pp. 18-29, 125-132 and 219-227. It is calibrated for latitude 52° north; it works for areas that are in northern Europe and most of the North America.


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