Coloured print of an armillary sphere and an orrery

Coloured print armillary sphere and orrery

Sphaera Armillaris. Instrumentum artificiale Orrery ad inventore appellatum, Tobias Conrad Lotter, 1774

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Num. inventory: 1799

Object name: print (visual piece)

Title: Sphaera Armillaris/Instrumentum artificiale Orrery ad inventore appellatum

Object date: 1774

Author: Tobias Conrad Lotter

Technique and material: colour engraving on paper.

Engravings and lithographs

Engraving made in Augsburg, Germany, in 1774, showing two astronomical instruments (Sphaera Armillaris/Instrumentum artificiale Orrery ad inventore appellatum). Most likely from the Atlas Geographicus Portatilis.

On the left, the armillary sphere or spherical astrolabe is visible, and on the right is an orrery or mechanical planetarium. Below the instruments is a Latin description explaining their different parts and their meaning. The text under the armillary sphere explains that the Zodiac is a large circular band between the two tropics, containing twelve signs in the form of animal figures that correspond with the twelve intervals of the movement of the sun.

The text also explains other characteristics of the sphere, including the elliptic, the horizon, the tropics and the circular quadrant, and explains that the polar circles are at a distance of 23° 30’ from the poles and 66° 30’ from the Equator. The text below the orrery explains that it represents the Sun, Mercury and Venus, that the Moon circles the Earth, and includes information on the distance between planets.