Beyond Celestial Toys: Orreries and Public Astronomical Lectures in the Eighteenth Century

Author Info
Hsiang-Fu Huang
黃相輔

Abstract

      This article introduces a selection of orreries collected in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich/National Maritime Museum, London. Eight items were investigated in this study. As important visual aids of astronomy developed in the eighteenth century and used in contemporary public philosophical lectures, the orreries provide a good case study through which to investigate the material culture in eighteenth-century Britain. A joint collaboration between instrument business and philosophical lecturing was formed in the eighteenth century marketplace, and this market was promoted by the politeness pursuit. This study shows how the orreries combined instruction with entertainment in eighteenth century polite culture context. Most of the orreries in the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, are small portable types. Among the eight selected items, William Lacy’s orrery (AST1066) is the most unique and was designated to be used in specific demonstration of the Saturn system. Item AST1055 made by W. and S. Jones was also probably for public demonstration. Other items were most likely for domestic use or private possession.

 

太陽系儀與十八世紀大眾天文演示
 
中文摘要
 
      太陽系儀是十八世紀以降在西歐迅速發展的太陽系機械模型,被廣泛應用在當時的自然哲學演講,用以展示各種天文現象原理。十八世紀中葉後,隨著教學及推廣的需求,低價的簡化小型太陽系儀問世,使太陽系儀成為新興的中產階級人士也能負擔得起的商品,不再僅是極少數富裕貴族的珍藏。十八世紀的大眾自然哲學演講與儀器製造行業的興盛密不可分;太陽系儀的發展與此兩者緊密相扣,是揭露當代天文推廣及物質文化的絕佳線索。本論文以十八世紀自然哲學演示及儀器行業為脈絡,論述太陽系儀在其中扮演寓教於樂之角色。除歷史論述外,並選取英國格林威治皇家天文台的部份館藏太陽系儀實物,考察製造者及相關文獻紀錄予以佐證。研究結果顯示在所選取的實物中,其中兩件太陽系儀(館藏編號AST1055、AST1066)最可能在當年的大眾天文演示場合使用。其他實物則可能為家庭或私人收藏之用。
Citation: 
《科技、醫療與社會》,第16期,頁161-222,2013年04月出版