Holdings in Astronomy, Survey and Navigation
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The Yale Peabody Museum’s Division of Historical Scientific Instruments boasts several astronomical, navigational and survey instruments of notoriety, including a Hartmann astrolabe from the 16th century. The collection also houses three 18th century armillary spheres and two tellurions.

Some instruments, while being splendid examples of their own type, are also connected to illustrious moments in Yale’s scientific history. For example:

  • A Dolland achromatic refracting telescope (made in London in 1830) used by Professor Denison Olmsted and Elias Loomis in 1835 to first observe the reappearance of Halley’s comet in America.
  • Elias Loomis’s sextant (Banks of London, 1835). With this instrument Loomis made the first precise determination of the latitude of New Haven and determined the latitude and longitude of the Yale steeple.

The Yale Peabody Museum’s collections are available to legitimate researchers for scholarly use. Loans are issued to responsible individuals at established institutions. Loans and access to the collection can be arranged through the Collections Manager.

Hartmann Astrolabe

Georg Hartmann was an early 16th century astrolabe maker. Hartmann’s factory in Nuremberg produced an impressive number of high quality brass and paper astrolabes. An apparent division of labor in Hartmann’s factory allowed some workers to make each part while others later finished and reassembled the instrument.

YPM catalog no. 4.1
Height 0.8 inches (2 centimeters)
Diameter 6.3 inches (16 centimeters)

Armillary Spheres

 

Armillary spheres show how the planets (and sometimes their moons) move in relation to the sun, constellations and each other. Armillary spheres can also show how the seasons occur, along with other phenomenon like eclipses.

Paper, brass and wood. These armillary spheres were formerly housed in the Yale Medical History Library Object Collection.

Tellurion

 

A model of the earth’s movements in the solar system, this instrument demonstrates the causes of day, night and the seasons.


Top: Wooden hoop ecliptic within which models of Sun, Earth, and Moon circulate. Mounted on wooden tripod base.
YPM catalog no. 1.367
Height 48.75 inches (123 centimeters)
Width 31 inches (79 centimeters)

Bottom: Tellurion of cardboard and wood.
Formerly housed in the Medical History
Library Object Collection.

Dolland Achromatic Refracting Telescope

A Dolland achromatic refracting telescope (made in London in 1830) used by Professor Denison Olmsted and Elias Loomis in 1835 to first observe the reappearance of Halley’s comet in America.

YPM catalog no. 5.48

Length 9.6 feet (293 centimeters)
Width 5.7 inches (14.5 centimeters)
Height 7 inches (18 centimeters)

Elias Loomis's Sextant

 

With this instrument Elias Loomis made the first precise determination of the latitude of New Haven and determined the latitude and longitude of the Yale steeple.

Banks of London, 1835
YPM catalog no. 1.409
Length 10.3 inches (26.25 centimeters)
Width 10.6 inches (27 centimeters)
Height 3.75 inches (9.5 centimeters)

Ban(c)ks Refracting Telescope

 

Refracting achromatic brass telescope with tripodal feet. The tube is adjusted through a rack and pinion system. There are missing additional eyepieces and at least 2 eye tubes.

Banks (Bancks) of London
Early 19th century
YPM catalog no. 1.403
Tube length 29 inches (72 centimeters)
Tripod height 12.5 inches (32 centimeters)

Burt & Watson Solar Compass

 

YPM catalog no. 1.289
Length 14.4 inches (36.5 centimeters)
Width 6.7 inches (17 centimeters)
Height 9.8 inches (25 centimeters)

Heliostats

 

A heliostat reflects a beam of light in a fixed direction, using a movable mirror driven by clockwork to counteract the apparent movement of the sun. The resulting stationary beam is used when an intense light is needed
or when the properties of solar radiation are to be studied. Bud and Warner, eds. 1998, Instruments of Science: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 305–306)

YPM catalog no. 5.30 (top)
Length 17.7 inches (45 centimeters)
Width 13.8 inches (35 centimeters)
Height 18.3 inches (46.5 centimeters)

YPM catalog no. 5.7 (bottom)
Length 11 inches (28 centimeters)
Width 9 inches (23 centimeters)
Height (max.) 20 inches (51 centimeters)

Harrison’s Coast Navigator

 

YPM catalog no. 6.2
Length 20.5 inches (52.1 centimeters)
Diameter 13.5 inches (34.3 centimeters)

 

 

YPM catalog no. 1.56
Length 11 inches (28 centimeters)
Width 9.8 inches (25 centimeters)
Height 3.9 inches (10 centimeters)