[exercise 1 – tips and resources]

[exercise 1]

General Tips:

Primary source research, regardless of your level of knowledge, is always rewarding. You may wish to consult some original sources such as Ptolemy’s Planisphaerium on stereographic projection (i.e. mapping of a sphere onto a plane), Geoffrey Chaucer’s 14th-century treatise on the astrolabe (online version available), as well as works by Peter Apian (a.k.a. Petrus Apianus) and Gemma Frisius.

You should of course also consult secondary sources to help you understand these texts but don’t shy away from looking at the primary sources, which are sometimes much easier to understand than the secondary ones.


  • Anderson, R.G.W., J.A. Bennett, and W.F. Ryan, eds. Making Instruments Count: Essays on Historical Scientific Instruments, presented to Gerard L’Estrange Turner. Aldershot [England]: Variorum, 1993. [Available at Osler, call # Q 185 M235 1993]
  • Gunther, R. T. “Volvelles or Aequatoria” in Early Science in Oxford, Vol. II. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1923. Pages 234-244. [Available at McLennan, call # Q127 G4 G8 1923]
  • Helfland, Jessica. Reinventing the Wheel. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. [On volvelles, though mostly from the 20th century]
  • Turner, Anthony John. Early Scientific Instruments: Europe, 1400-1800. London:  Sotheby’s Publications, 1987. Pages 11-16. [Available at McLennan, call # folio QC53 T85 1987]
  • Turner, Gerard L’Estrange. Renaissance Astrolabes and their Makers. Burlington: Ashgate, 2003. [Available at McLennan, call # QB85 T85 2003]
  • Vitruvius. “Book 9” in the Ten Books of Architecture. Translated by Morris Hicky Morgan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1914.

Suggested websites:

Important: use your judgment when consulting online sources as few websites actually contain reliable information.

Museum websites, as well as those of institutions, are trustworthy; here are a few you may wish to consult:

The Astrolabe website contains useful practical information on stereographic projection. Also, you may be interested in watching the TED video of Tom Wujec’s demonstration of a 13th century astrolabe.


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