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6 Jan 2008
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The Astrologer's Attic
As you're barrelling down the Informational SuperHighway, a strange sight catches your eye. A picture starts to form on your screen and your head tilts slightly as you try to figure out what it is you're seeing. Slowly (and Lord knows that for some of you with modems not up to speed, it IS slow) the image takes shape and your eyes are treated with a sight to behold!
Here at the Zodiacal Zephyr there is just such a place. Climb the stairs up to the attic, swing open the door (mind the cobwebs, now, ya'hear?) and take a peek inside. It's a bit dusty in here, so formality is out the window and casualness prevails.
Tacked up on the wall to your right is a small sign. Moving in closer for a better look, you read: You are about to be flung to the far reaches of the Earth for a glimpse of antiques only an astrologer or astronomer could love. Click the BACK button on your browser to return to here, or, if you choose to explore on your own, take along a candy bar, a can of pop, and a flashlight.
Ha, cute, you think to yourself and then move inside the doorway where the caretaker welcomes you and points the way for you.
Take a look -- there -- near the old oak desk in the corner. See how the light catches it, just so? It's the world's first Armillary Sphere built in the 17th century. A gorgeous work of art showing us the Celestial Sphere in three dimensions. Created by an astronomer, no doubt, but what astrologer wouldn't want to have this striking piece gracing their home? Curiously, there isn't a speck of dust on it. Maybe the cleaning lady stopped in and gave it a quick swipe of the dustrag.
Nearby, just to the left, sits another version of the
Armillary Sphere. This one seems just about right for your study. It would probably look best near the big bookcase and just to the side of your easy chair. Reach out and touch the cool brass rings. Run your finger over the etched degree marks. What craftsmanship. Imagine what your friends would say if it were in your house.
Ok, ok, you've stared at that armillary long enough. Let's move over this way. Careful now...step over those musty ephemerides lying there on the floor. Whew, smelly, aren't they? That one on the right looks like it saw a lot of wear and tear. The paper edges are all brown and stained from years of thumbing.
Whoa! What's THAT? No, not over there, HERE. Just alongside that old stack of books. Go ahead, pick it up. Don't know what it is? I'll tell you. It's an Astrolabe. Looks sort of like a pocketwatch, doesn't it? Well, ok, I admit it's a little bigger, but I'll bet with that you could calculate the position of the celestial bodies. Heck, wouldn't even NEED those crusty old ephemerides. The hours of work that must have gone into making this piece! Gorgeous, isn't it?
Uhm, do you mind? Put it down. I know it's nice and all, but afterall, this is someone else's attic and we're just guests here. I know how you feel, though. Looking at a chart on a computer screen somehow doesn't have the charm of holding one of these gems in your hand, does it? What? Huh? How does it work? Where do you wind it up? No no, look here, you hold it like this so that the edge faces you. Here, hold onto the ring at the top and sight along this brass bar.....
When you're done over there, meet me over on the other side of the attic, ok? HEY! Careful with that thing....just lay it down gently. Brass is sorta soft and scratches easily.
I know you're going to like this next one. Just catch a glipse of this ORRERY. It was the world's first. See? It shows the Sun and the Moon. But if you think that's nice. Just follow me.....
That's okay, you can just step around that one, but be careful you don't knock anything over. Now this is the creme de la creme, in my opinion. This one is just exquisite! Oh my, what a find. It's a more complex version of the one we just saw. Yes, an ORRERY again, but one that goes beyond your wildest dreams.
And wouldn't you just LOVE to have one of these on your desk when a client walks in? Come to think of it, you might not have any desk showing! :) Uh, please, I don't think you're supposed to try to spin those. There's a crank here somewhere. Dang, it's dark in here. Well, maybe next time I'll show you.
I guess we've pretty much seen everything at floor level, but have you looked up on the walls? No? Then you missed some other little gems, my friend. Look right here, above the armillary. It's a Celestial Map by a fellow name of Cellarius.
Now over here, on this other wall, is another gem by Cellarius that depicts an Armillary Sphere. Don't ask me what the artist had in mind. I'm just the caretaker here.|
If you thought that one was hard to figure out, this last one with the dusty frame....wait let me brush off some of these cobwebs...is a copy of the gearing plans for one of those Orreries, I think. Don't you just wish these artists would sign these things so you can read them? Must be the lighting up here. Next time we'll have to bring some lamps.
Thanks for stopping in. Hope you found this attic interesting. Every now and then, the residents bring back some gem from their travels and since there's not a whole lot of room in the rest of the building, something will have to be relegated to the attic. Maybe next time you stop by, there'll be some new things to look at. Bye now...
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