Astrolabe (front)

< 1 of 1 > Back

made in Persia

Postcard of Astrolabe (front).
© National Museums Scotland

Astrolabe (front)

An astrolabe is an instrument used by early astronomers to measure the altitude of stars and planets and also as a navigational aid. This brass example was made in the early 18th century in Persia by Abdullah al-A'Immah. The 'horse' holding the instrument together in the centre is a modern replacement.

The front of the astrolabe (pictured here) shows the rete (or star map). The star pointers are leaves. Although no two are identical, the astrolabes made by Abdullah al-A'Immah show the same flowing pattern outside the ecliptic (the smaller, off-centre circle), as well as one of two general patterns within the ecliptic, depending on the size of the instrument. In his smaller astrolabes, as here, there is a straight bar through the pole to the ecliptic.

Over 30 instruments made by Abdullah al-A'Immah have survived. However, no details of his life are known; but from surviving instruments made or decorated for named patrons it is concluded that al-A'Immah was a leading member of a school of astrolabists probably centred in Isfahan, and active from around 1678 until the downfall of the Safavid dynasty in 1722.

Record details

To search on related items, click any linked text below.

Online ID: 000-100-104-204-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0098: National Museums Scotland
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1925.20
Date: Early 18th century
Dimensions: 3.63" D
What: Astrolabe
Subject: 3. ASTRONOMY, Astrolabes (Departmental Classification)
Who: Abdullah al-A' Immah, Persia (Maker)
Where: Middle East, Iran
Description: Persian astrolabe signed by Abdullah al-A' Immah, early 18th century
  • For the use of the astrolabe, see Turner, A. J., The Time Museum: Time Measuring Instruments Part 1 Astrolabes. Rockford, Illinois: 1985, pp 1-9, 23-6 North, J. D. 'The Astrolabe' in Scientific American 230 (1974) pp 96-106 National Maritime Museum. The P 
  • Gibbs, Sharon L et al., A Computerised Checklist of Astrolabes. New Haven, Connecticut: 1973, no. 1184 
  • Gingench, Owen, King, David and Saliba, George, 'The Abd al-A'Imma Astrolabe Forgeries' in Journal for the History of Astronomy 3 (1972), pp 188-98.  
Related Records:
< 1 of 1 > Back
Powered by Scran