1999 American Stargate

Every night I count the stars
I imagine each one is a friend in my life
There are too many to count

The Universe in your grasp.

That is the promise of this spherical astrolabe (1999), which is perfectly sized to nestle neatly in the palm of a hand. More than a representative model, it is a working device which captures and controls the heavens.

To hold a spherical astrolabe is not just a God’s-eye view of the world, but an invitation to act as the prime mover in the cosmos. The instrument’s celestial components are the finely formed skeletal framework (the rete), and the inner sphere. It carries 49 points that represent bright stars in the sky. The rete’s largest outer circle is the ecliptic (the path of the Sun over a year). It is divided into the signs of the Zodiac, and the Sun can be located at a fixed point on the ecliptic for any day of the year. Rotating the rete accordingly moves the sun across the sky, enabling the astrolabe to solve many practical problems relating to astronomy, astrology, and future telling.

If this seems an extraordinary and potent object, it is all the more so for being the only surviving astrolabe of its kind.