Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Astronomical Instruments, Renaissance

  • Matteo Cosci
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_899-1


Although not all the traditional instruments enjoyed a contemporaneous parabola of fortune, it is possible to include the following items in a sufficiently comprehensive Renaissance astronomical equipment list: the quadrant, the triquetrum, the astrolabe, the armillary sphere, the nocturnal, Jacob’s staff, the sextant, the equatorium, and the celestial globe. Unsurprisingly, it was the telescope that turned out to be the actual game-changer in the observational field.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ameisenova, Zofia. 1959. The globe of Martin Bylica of Olkusz and celestial maps in the East and in the West. Trans. A. Potocki. Wrocław: Zaklad Narodowy Imienia Ossolinskich.Google Scholar
  2. Bartolini, Simone. 2008. Gli strumenti astronomici di Egnazio Danti e la misura del tempo in Santa Maria Novella. Firenze: Polistampa.Google Scholar
  3. Bodnár, Szilvia. 2007. Two fragments of a renaissance bronze frieze. Metropolitan Museum Journal 42: 95–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chapman, Allan. 1994. Reconstructing the angle-measuring instruments of Pierre Gassendi. In Learning, language, and invention. Essays presented to Francis Maddison, ed. Willem D. Hackmann and Anthony J. Turner, 103–116. Varorum/Brookfield/Paris: Aldershot/Ashgate Pub. Co./Société Internationale l’Astrolabe.Google Scholar
  5. Chapman, Allan. 1996. Astronomical instruments and their users: Tycho Brahe to William Lassell. Aldershot: Variorum.Google Scholar
  6. Dekker, Elly. 2004. Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza: Catalogue of Orbs, Spheres and Globes. Firenze: Giunti.Google Scholar
  7. Egler, Robert A. 2006. Measuring the heaven. Astronomical instruments before the telescope. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 100: 37–40.Google Scholar
  8. Gordon, Robert B. 1987. Sixteenth-century metalworking technology used in the manufacture of two German astrolabes. Annals of science 44: 1–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gunther, Robert T. 1926. The great astrolabes and other scientific instruments of Humphrey Cole. Archaeologia 76: 272–317.Google Scholar
  10. Haasbroek, N.D. 1968. Gemma Frisius, Tycho Brahe and Snellius and their triangulations. Delft: Rijkscommissie voor Geodesie.Google Scholar
  11. Hackmann, Willem D., and Anthony J. Turner, eds. 1994. Learning, language, and invention. Essays presented to Francis Maddison. Varorum/Brookfield/Paris: Aldershot/Ashgate Pub. Co./Société Internationale l’Astrolabe.Google Scholar
  12. Heilbron, John L. 1999. The sun in the church. Cathedrals as solar observatories. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kremer, Richard. 1980. Bernard Walther’s astronomical observations. Journal for the History of Astronomy 9: 174–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. van der Krogt, Peter C. J. 1989 (19932). Globi neerlandici. The production of globes in the low countries. Utrecht: HES.Google Scholar
  15. Kubbinga, Henk. 2014. The astronomical instruments (1618) and Catalogus Librorum (1646) of Nicolaus Mulerius, with an essay on his place in the history of science. Groningen: Groningen University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Leopold, John H. 1986. Astronomen Sterne Geräte. Landgraf Wilhelm IV. und seine sich selbst bewegenden Globen. Luzern: Fremersdorf.Google Scholar
  17. Leopold, John H., and Klaus Pechstein. 1977. Der kleine Himmelsglobus 1594 von Jost Bürgi. Luzern: Fremersdorf.Google Scholar
  18. Maddison, Francis. 1997. On the origin of the mariner’s astrolabe, Sphaera. Newsletter of the Museum of history of science, 5: occasional papers n. 2.Google Scholar
  19. North, John D. 1969. A post-copernican equatorium. Physis 11: 418–457.Google Scholar
  20. Poulle, Emmanuel. 1969. Les conditions de la navigation astronomique au XVe siècle. Coimbra: Junta de Investigações do Ultramar.Google Scholar
  21. Poulle, Emmanuel. 1980. Les instruments de la théorie des planètes selon Ptolémée. Équatoires et horlogerie planétaires du XIIIe au XVIe siècle. Vol. 2. Genève/Paris: Droz and H. Champion.Google Scholar
  22. Przypkowski, Tadeusz. 1953. Les instruments astronomiques de Nicolas Copernic et l’édition d’Amsterdam (1617) du ‘De revolutionibus’. In Actes du VI e Congrès International d’histoire des sciences, vol. 2, 539–543. Paris: Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences.Google Scholar
  23. Pülhorn, Wolfgang and Peter, Laub.. 1992. Focus Behaim Globus, 2 vol. Katalogbearb. Johannes K.W. Willers. Nürnberg: Verlag des Germanisches Nationalmuseum (1992).Google Scholar
  24. Raeder, Hans, Elis Stromgren, and Bengt Stromgren. 1946. Tycho Brahe’s description of his instruments and scientific work, as given in Astronomiae instauratae mechanica (Wandesburgi 1598). Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard.Google Scholar
  25. Roche, John. 1981. The radius Astronomicus in England. Annals of Science 38: 1–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sima, Zdisłav. 1993. Prague sextants of Tycho Brahe. Annals of Science 50: 445–453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Simcock, A.V. 1994. Elucidatio fabricae ususque. Rambling among the beginnings of the scientific instrument bookshelf. In Learning, language, and invention. Essays presented to Francis Maddison, ed. Willem D. Hackmann and Anthony J. Turner, 273–296. Varorum/Brookfield/Paris: Aldershot/Ashgate Pub. Co./Société Internationale l’Astrolabe.Google Scholar
  28. Stimson, Alan N. 1988. The Mariner’s astrolabe. A survey of known, surviving sea astrolabes. Utrecht: HES.Google Scholar
  29. Turner, Anthony J. 1987. Early scientific instruments. Europe 1400–1800. London: Sotheby’s – Philip Wilson.Google Scholar
  30. Turner, Anthony J. 1989. Paper, print and mathematics. Philippe Danfrie and the making of mathematical instruments in late 16th century Paris. In Studies in the history of scientific instruments, ed. Christine Blondel et al., 22–42. London/Paris: Rogers Turner for the Centre de Recherche en Histoire des sciences et des techniques de la Cité des sciences et de l’industrie.Google Scholar
  31. Turner, Anthony J. 1998. Mathematical instrument-making in early modern Paris. In Luxury trades and consumerism in ancien régime Paris. Studies in the history of the skilled workforce, ed. Robert Fox and Anthony J. Turner, 63–96. Aldershot/Brookfield: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  32. Turner, Anthony J. 2001. Gli strumenti scientifici. In: Storia della Scienza Treccani. Il Rinascimento. http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/il-rinascimento-gli-strumenti-scientifici_(Storia-della-Scienza)/. Accessed 3 Aug 2016.
  33. Turner, and Gerard l’Estrange. 1994. The three astrolabes of Gerard Mercator. Annals of Science 51: 329–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Turner, Gerard l’Estrange, and Elly Dekker. 1993. An astrolabe attributed to Gerard Mercator c. 1570. Annals of Science 50: 403–443.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matteo Cosci
    • 1
  1. 1.Università Ca’ FoscariVeniceItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Matteo Valleriani
    • 1
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany