Heaven and Earth United

Instruments in Astrological Contexts


Historically, the idea that the stars and planets influence the Earth and its inhabitants has proved powerful in almost every culture, offering an important context for the use of mathematical and astronomical instruments. In the past, however, historians of astronomy have paid relatively little attention to astrology and other “non-scientific” topics, while historians of astrology have tended to concentrate on the analysis of texts rather than surviving artefacts, scientific instruments in particular. Heaven and Earth United is an attempt to redress the balance through an exploration of the astrological contexts in which instruments once found a place.

Contributors are Silke Ackermann, Marisa Addomine, Jim Bennett, Marvin Bolt, Louise E. Devoy, Richard Dunn, Seb Falk, Stephen Johnston, Richard L. Kremer, Günther Oestmann, Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas, Petra G. Schmidl, Giorgio Strano, and Sylvia Sumira.
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Biographical Note

Richard Dunn is Senior Curator for the History of Science at Royal Museums Greenwich. His publications include The Telescope: A Short History (2009), Finding Longitude (2014, with Rebekah Higgitt) and Navigational Instruments (2016).

Silke Ackermann studied History, Languages and Cultures of the Orient, and History of Science at Frankfurt University (Germany). She worked for sixteen years in a variety of curatorial and managerial roles at the British Museum before taking up the Directorship of the Oxford University Museum of the History of Science following a two-year stint at a German University between these two roles. She served as President of the Scientific Instrument Commission of the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science until 2017.

Giorgio Strano is Curator of the Collections at the Museo Galileo: Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza in Florence. He is involved in the study and popularization of the history of mathematical astronomy. He has published articles in Italian and international journals and has collaborated on the creation of exhibitions on the history of astronomy and science.

Table of contents

List ofFigures and Tables


1 Using Astrolabes for Astrological Purposes: The Earliest Evidence Revisited
Petra G. Schmidl

2 What’s on the Back of an Astrolabe? Astrolabes as Supports for Planetary Calculators
Seb Falk

3 Medical and Astrological Plates: Their Roles in Medieval and Renaissance Knowledge
Josefina Rodríguez-Arribas

4 “Preciseness and Pleasure”: The Astrological Diptychs of Thomas Hood
Stephen Johnston

5 Displaying Astrological Knowledge through Tabulation: Some Notes Pertaining to Particular Arrangement on Instruments
Günther Oestmann

6 Astrological Aspectaria on Early Modern Instruments
Louise E. Devoy

7 Italian Astronomical Clocks as Public Astrological Machines
Marisa Addomine

8 Astrological Time in Public Space: The Görlitz Arachne (1550) and Planetary Hours
Richard L. Kremer

9 The Heavens at the Medici Court: Antonio Santucci’s Cosmological Models
Giorgio Strano

10 Were Globes Used in the Practice of Early Modern Astrology?
Jim Bennett and Sylvia Sumira

11 Instruments and the Astrologer’s Image
Richard Dunn*

12 Defining Scientific Instruments in Astrological Practice: A Response
Marvin Bolt

Glossary 263
Richard Dunn

General Index 277


All interested in the history of astronomy and astrology and, in particular, in the role of scientific instruments in astrological contexts between the 7th and the 18th centuries.


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