CELESTIAL SPHERE (MSC 042)

  • Origin: 1979
  • Place of Origin: KБ / 3г Possibly USSR (Incomprehensible Script)
  • Condition (in our opinion): 7.5/10
  • Item Code: MSC 042

Description

Presented here is a very interesting and enigmatic astronomical instrument called ‘celestial sphere.’ It has long been established that prior to the invention of devices such as sextants, compasses, and the modern GPS system, the navigators circumnavigated the open oceans establishing their voyages solely on their observation of the sun, stars, ocean swells and other signs of mother nature instead of using instruments. Traditionally, Celestial spheres were used in navigation, as they represent the rising and setting points of the celestial bodies such as the sun, moon, stars and planets; giving us the locations of these celestial bodies and constellations in the apparent sphere of the sky. It is basically a massive imaginary sphere which surrounds the earth; the earth being its center.

Celestial spheres or globes are utilized in astrological or astronomical calculations and generically used for decorative purposes. They are also used in resolving problems involving stars like an analogue computer. The markings on the globe such as the equator and ecliptic are used to determine the setting and rising of stars, as well as the time when they reach the highest point in the sky, i.e. culmination time. They were still used for way finding in Pacific traditions in the 20th and for teaching celestial navigation in seafaring people.

It is known that the first celestial globe was built by the ancient Greek Thales of Miletus in about 6th Century BCE. Whereas, the earliest globe currently in existence is the Farnese globe and some Arabic made globes from 11th century CE still exist.

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Courtesy: Astronomy-Journey to the Cosmic Frontier, 1995

Technically, it has been established that the poles of the earth are aligned with the poles of the celestial sphere; similarly the earth’s equator lies in the same plane as the equator on the sphere. In simple terms, as the Earth lies in the middle of the sphere, we are positioned inside the sphere where above our head, is the zenith and directly below us is the nadir; both these points are present on the sphere. The horizon lies in between as a great circle which is cut by plane which is tangent to the Earth at our feet. The celestial poles are termed as the North and South Celestial Poles (NCP and SCP) which are the basically extension of the Earth’s rotational axis to the sky. The NCP and SCP lie in the constellations Ursa Minor & Octans, respectively. Whereas, the extension of the Earth’s equatorial plane is termed as the celestial equator. The circle that circumvents NCP, SCP, Zenith & Nadir is termed as the meridian.

The most interesting feature of these spheres are the imaginary shapes called constellations which are drawn on them; which organize the stars into readily recognizable groups. The origins of the names of these stars are largely unknown but 48 were named by ancient Greeks, hence termed as Ptolemic constellations which are based on the shapes of ancient mythical heroes forming the ‘star map’. Currently, 88 of them have so far been recorded. A romanticized way of determining one’s direction is by learning a few constellations and determining the north, south, east and west direction; in this manner one can navigate using these star constellations.

Apart from the technicalities, the celestial sphere imparts a mysterious aura to the environment in which it is placed, as it is indeed a rarity in modern times.

It comes in a wooden box which is intact with slight scratches and marking on the outer body. The globe is burgundy in color and present in remarkable condition. Own it now, to get an edge of uniqueness among your acquaintances.


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