How much detail can be packed into a single drawing you ask? Your answer lies in this Ink drawing on paper by the Ukrainian super duo, Interesni Kazki...

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Astrolabes are problem solving instruments – they compute things such as the time of day according the position of the sun and the stars in the sky. Like a computer, you input information and then you receive output. They were typically made of brass and had a 6 inch diameter, although as we will see much larger ones were made.

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This instrument is clear evidence of the links between the astrolabe and astrology. On one side is an astrolabe for a single latitude, and on the other an astrological volvelle, used to find the positions of planets and other celestial bodies, especially in relation to the traditional astrological houses.

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The “Emperor’s Astronomy” (Petrus Apianus, 1495-1552) is one of the great masterpieces of sixteenth-century printing, and also one of the top-ten in my personal digital collection. I found the codex a couple of months ago, when I was looking for “volvelles” (or wheel chart, which is a paper slide chart with rotating parts used mainly in ancient astronomy treatises, introduced by Persian astronomer Abu Rayhan Biruni).

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Table of Astronomy, from Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Volume 1, p 164, London, 1728

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