astrolabe

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astrolabe

(ăs`trəlāb), instrument probably used originally for measuring the altitudes of heavenly bodies and for determining their positions and movements. Although its origin is ancient and obscure, its invention is frequently ascribed either to Hipparchus or to Apollonius of Perga. For many centuries it was used by both astronomers and navigators. A simple astrolabe consisted of a disk of wood or metal with the circumference marked off in degrees. It was suspended by an attached ring. Pivoted at the center of the disk was a movable pointer called by Arab astronomers the alidade. By sighting with the alidade and taking readings of its position on the graduated circle, angular distances could be determined. Mariners, if sufficiently skilled in navigation, could use the astrolabe to determine latitude, longitude, and time of day and as an aid in making other calculations. It was much used on voyages of discovery in the 15th cent. and was important until the invention of the sextant in the 18th cent. The more elaborate astrolabes bore a star map (the planisphere, a circular map, was added by Hipparchus), a zodiacal circle, and various other useful or decorative devices.

astrolabe

(ass -trŏ-layb) An instrument, dating back to antiquity, used to measure the altitude of a celestial body and to solve problems of spherical astronomy. From the 15th century it was employed by mariners to determine latitude, until replaced by the sextant. There have been various types of astrolabes. One simple form consisted of a graduated disk that could be suspended by a ring to hang in a vertical plane. A movable sighting device – the alidade – pivoted at the center of the disk. Modern versions are still used to determine stellar positions and hence local time and latitude. See also prismatic astrolabe.

Astrolabe

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

An astrolabe is a mechanical device that, prior to the development of the sextant, was widely used by mariners. Said to have been developed by Hipparchus, greatest of the ancient Greek astronomers (although some scholars give Ptolemy the honor), the astrolabe was used by astrologers when they erected horoscopes to determine the positions of the planets. (Prior to the development of ephemerides, it was necessary to actually look at the heavens when casting a horoscope.). The term astrolabe means “taking the star” in Greek, so it could be used to refer to any instrument for observing the stellar dome. Thus, in the early medieval period, astrolabe was often applied to the armillary sphere, a different instrument. The device now called an astrolabe is more properly termed a planispheric astrolabe. Originally Greek, this instrument was lost to western Europe until its reintroduction by Arabic sources.

Sources:

DeVore, Nicholas. Encyclopedia of Astrology. New York: Philosophical Library, 1947.
Tester, Jim. A History of Western Astrology. New York: Ballantine, 1987.

Astrolabe

 

a bay on the northeast coast of New Guinea (Maclay Coast). The bay is about 37 km long and 34 km wide, with depths of 40–106 m. The coast is hilly and covered with tropical vegetation. Many points on the coast have Russian names—for example, Konstantin Harbor, Cape Novosil’skii, Cape Koptev, and the Gogol River—as a result of the work done by the Russian traveler N. N. Miklukho-Maklai in New Guinea.

astrolabe

[′as·trə‚lāb]
(engineering)
An instrument designed to observe the positions and measure the altitudes of celestial bodies.

astrolabe

an instrument used by early astronomers to measure the altitude of stars and planets and also as a navigational aid. It consists of a graduated circular disc with a movable sighting device
References in periodicals archive ?
Ibn al-Shatir wrote three works on making and using astrolabes, and he is also known for constructing the polar-axis sundial of the Umayyad Mosque and who embraced the theory of heliocentrism, and may have been one of the influences on Nicolaus Copernicus' work.
In addition, he also wrote a few independent works, whose subjects included cosmology, ephemerides (the study that focuses on celestial navigation by providing the positions of naturally occurring astronomical objects in the sky at any given time), astrolabes, as well as a treatise on the distances and sizes of the planets, and another work on the creation of almanacs.
About half the book deals with planispheric astrolabes.
Astrolabes and other instruments used by the sailors are included, as is a large tapestry, Discovery of India (early 1500s), depicting animals including a unicorn being loaded onto ships; a marvelous sixteenth-century hardwood communion table inlaid in ivory with Christian and Indian motifs; and images of birds and animals discovered on these voyages, including Hanno, an elephant who made his way from India to Rome in 1514.
Astrolabes at Greenwich; a catalogue of the astrolabes in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
They gave the Industrial Revolution its rotary power for a brief period and should by rights have disappeared into history along with astrolabes and looms.
The ten chapters cover the human need to name elements of time passages and the value of such innovations as time candles, sundials, pendulum clocks, astrolabes, and arbitrary world time zones.
It continues with a description of all known astrolabes from late-9th- and 10th-century Baghdad, some 13 in number, taken from my unpublished catalogue of medieval Islamic and European instruments.
Tosi selected the images of his study according to the objects that accompany the sitters: astrolabes, regular bodies, solar clocks, armillary spheres, globes, astronomical instruments, and mathematical texts.
The Five Senses is a cunning masterpiece where each canvas is heaped with miniatures showing carved busts, pottery, carpets, astrolabes and all the paraphernalia of a Renaissance grandee.
The other category is that of scientific instruments, in this case mainly those dealing with astronomy like astrolabes, quadrants, globes, directional instruments or pictures thereof.