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Orrery and Tellurion

An orrery is a mechanical model of celestial objects. Typically the model is of the solar system. And an important thing about an orrery is that it shows the motion of these celestial objects.

So, if it were of the solar system it would show the motions of the planets around the sun and in relation to each other.



(Painting: A philosopher lecturing on the Orrery - ca. 1766 Painter: Joseph Wright of Derby)

Ancient Greeks - Had mechanical sconstructions that were called Planetaria and Celestial globes. These were geocentric devices (With the earth as the center). So they gave a perspective as from Earth.

More Modern: The orrery is Helio-centric which has the Sun as the center. So... we step off of earth and view the motion of celestial bodies as if wer were in space.

The Origin of the word Orrery - Was named after the person it was made for. Charles Boyle, the 4th Earl of Orrery! And this was in 1704. But this type of device with a heliocentric perspective does go back a bit further and the earliest known device of this type goes back to about 1653.

Variations on the theme of Orrery -

What we actually build in my tutorial here is a Tellurion. That is a model of the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon. The purpose of a Tellurion is to show the relationship between the three and in particular to show eclipses.

Armillary Sphere: This is a different type of model of the sky and celestial objects that uses a series of rings. Think of it as similar in look to a gyroscope.

Celestial Sphere - It is very similar to a globe except that instead of showing the terrain of the earth on a globe it shows the objects in the sky on a globe.

I have a tutorial on how to make an Orrery/Tellurion right here:

Make a Wizard's Orrery

An orrery is a mechanical device that shows the movement of celestial objects. We make one that shows the motions of the Sun the Earth and the Moon. And we do it with foam board. Make a Wizard's Orrery



Here is a tellurion

Photo Credit: By Sage Ross (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Buy An Orrery:



The Motorized Solar System and Planetarium takes the abstract concept of the solar system and brings it to life with light and motion. The activities make for a powerful, hands-on learning experience. To teach children about stars and constellations, use the star dome to transform any classroom into a planetarium.



Orrery: A Story of Mechanical Solar Systems, Clocks, and English Nobility (Astronomers' Universe)

"Orrery" appeals to almost anyone interested in popular astronomy, astronomical mechanical devices, scientific instruments, the history of clocks - and even the history of aristocratic and prestigious families! Many people these days - not only astronomers - have a good idea of the main components of the Solar System.

They might also know about the orrery, a mechanical model that shows the movements of the Moon and planets. But not too many know why it was so named and who it was named after. The Boyle family - the Earls of Orrery "include the famous Boyle of Boyle's Law. But others were key in the history of the orrery, not the least being clockmakers. Aware of the lunar and planetary content of the sky, they strove to make scientific instruments to demonstrate their movements and introduced measuring devices to predict their positions. In antiquity, their lives on occasion depended on the accuracy; upsetting kings and lords was dangerous business! Orreries are found everywhere.

They can be made of wood or metal, and are even available today as home-assembly kits and children's toys. They appear in paintings, on computers, on the side of royal clocks, in stately home hallways, and of course, in museums all over the world. This book contains illustrations of orreries to give a guide as to what is and was available and where to see the best examples. It also contains information and references to help readers who want to make (or buy) their own orrery. The story of the Boyles is not just relevant to a tiny corner of Ireland, but spans the world. "Orrery" highlights the process of discovery and humankind's universal fascination with the heavens. Provides a fascinating example of the relationship between innovative thinking (invention) and precision engineering (execution).


Orrery (app)

Experience our solar system and visit its planets with this digital 3D orrery.
Just sit back and orbit the planets or even land on some of them while listening to soothing background music.

Orrery [Download PC]





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