noun \ˈas-trə-ˌlāb also -ˌlab\

Definition of ASTROLABE

:  a compact instrument used to observe and calculate the position of celestial bodies before the invention of the sextant

Illustration of ASTROLABE


Middle English, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French astrelabe, from Medieval Latin astrolabium, from Late Greek astrolabion, from Greek astrolabos, from astr- + lambanein to take — more at latch
First Known Use: 14th century


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Astrolabe, 11th century.—Oxford Science Archive/Heritage-Images

Type of early scientific instrument used for reckoning time and for observational purposes. Astrolabes can be traced to the 6th century AD; they came into wide use in Europe and the Islamic world in the early Middle Ages and were adopted by mariners by the mid-15th century. One widely used variety, the planispheric astrolabe, can be regarded as a rudimentary analog computer. It enabled astronomers to calculate the positions of the Sun and prominent stars with respect to both the horizon and the meridian.


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