What is an Astrolabe?

Blacksmithing | Casting |

Found this wonderful video describing the use of a most beautifully hand crafted metal device used for telling time in the 13th Century. The Astrolabe is something I think that some of you on ArtMetal may want to take a look at making using blacksmithing or casting methods. Anyway, I hope this video summons creativity and craftsmanship to some of you.

Tom Wujec reaches back to one of our earliest but most ingenious devices -- the astrolabe. With thousands of uses, from telling time to mapping the night sky, this old tech reminds us that the ancient can be as brilliant as the brand-new.

visitor's picture


wow, very cool! thanks!

I also liked the IBM ad afterwards about how Stockholm has reduced traffic and pollution!


eligius1427's picture

Great video. Can you only

Great video. Can you only use an Astrolabe at night?


Jake Balcom
Mettle Design
Lincoln, NE

Jamie Santellano's picture

That was an interesting

That was an interesting video. It amazes me of the tools they used to tell time and map out locations etc.

Jamie Santellano

naturalsteel's picture


Qui Que
Fun lecture. Ten years ago when I was diong Ren Fairs we carried some very nice Astrolabes being produced by a guy in Berkley Ca. along with the Chauser book. I don't remember his name but he might still be around.

Jake- you can sight on the sun to use an astrolabe during the day too. They were also somewhat multifunctional. Chauser goes into using them for calculating hights of buildings much like you'd use a surveyer's sextant.


Stephen Fitz-Gerald's picture

Thank you Qui Que

Stephen Fitz-Gerald
I've been fascinated with ancient instruments pretty much forever. That was a great little video to make sense of this one.
Here's a link to another one (from the Renaissance) I was able to reconstruct from a page out of Salvador Dali's sketchbook,from his marvelous but little known book called,"50 SECRETS OF MAGIC CRAFTSMANSHIP"

lorrie's picture


Thanks for the posts, being a teacher, I eat this stuff up. I'm trying to figure out how I can get my students to draw one of these up in my CAD class. We can also print things out in plastic, but I doubt we can get the detail. I might try to network with our machine trades and see if they can make one from our drawings. What fun!