Discover the Astrolabe

Chris Parkin, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford

Thursday 16th & Friday 17th September

Times: 10-10.45, 11-11.45,12noon-12.45 and 1.45-2.30pm each day


This session offers a unique opportunity to celebrate the contribution made by Islamic cultures to science during the middle ages by discovering the astrolabe, one of the most extraordinary early astronomical instruments.


During the workshop we will trace the development of ideas about the universe that go back to the ancient Greeks. Students will make a model of an astrolabe and find out how it can be used to show the movements of the heavens and make astronomical calculations such as measuring the time from the positions of the stars, and calculating the times of sunrise and sunset.

The session will be illustrated by examples from the world-class collection of astrolabes at the Museum of the History of Science.

This is a practical session involving modelling and problem-solving. It is well suited to challenging more able students and introducing cross-curricular links.

Duration of session: 1.5 hours

Maximum numbers at each session: 30

Curriculum Links: KS3/4 Science/History: understanding astronomy/models of the universe/historical influence of Islamic culture, science and mathematics


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