Barcelona Cultura

The astrolabe described by Odo Van Maelcote

In 1896, Barcelona City Council purchased an astrolabe from Martí Cot Font for 250 pesetas, dating back to around 1610 and intended for the now-defunct Museum of History located in the Castle of the Three Dragons, a landmark designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner in Ciutadella Park.

This scientific device offers various astronomical insights, including day and night lengths for each day of the year, star visibility on specific nights, and their rising and setting times, among other astronomical, astrological, and geodetic aspects. It's a remarkable artifact from a transitional period when astrolabes were giving way to more specialized instruments like the compass, sextant, and clock. With its geometric design and metal engravings, likely brass or silver, it bears resemblance to the one described by Odo Van Maelcote (1572-1614) in his book Astrolabiorum, seu utriusque Planisphaerii universalis et particularis usus, a piece so unique that even renowned astrolabe experts acknowledge never having seen its like before.

The doctoral thesis on this artifact is conducted by Eduard Farré Olive, a watchmaking specialist, under the guidance of Dr. Josep Casulleras Cerrada from the Faculty of Philology and Communication at the University of Barcelona, specializing in the History of Science and Arab-Islamic Science.


Ajuntament de Barcelona