Astronomical clock

From Academic Kids

An astronomical clock is a clock with special mechanisms and dials to display the relative positions of the sun, moon, zodiacal constellations, and sometimes major planets.

One of the most famous of this type of clock is the Town Hall clock in Prague, Czech Republic. It is also known as the Prague Orloj.

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PragueTownHallClock.jpg
Prague astronomical clock

The central portion was completed in 1410. The four figures are set in motion at the hour, with Death (represented by a skeleton) striking the time.

On the hour there is a presentation of statues of the Apostles at the doorways above the clock, with all twelve presented at noon.

In 1870 a calendar display was added below the clock.

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PragueClockFace.jpg
Astronomical clock face and animated figures

During World War II the clock was nearly destroyed by Nazi fire. The townspeople are credited with heroic efforts in saving most of the parts. It was gradually renovated till 1948. In 1979 the clock was once more cleaned and renovated. According to local legend the city will suffer if the clock is neglected and its good operation is placed in jeopardy.

Olomouc, the former capital of Moravia in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, also has an impressive exterior astronomical clock on the main town square.

Astronomical clocks of lesser size are found in other countries around the world:

The Science Museum (London) has a scale model of the 'Cosmic Engine', which Su Sung constructed in 1092. This great astronomical clock was about ten meters high (about 30 feet) and was indirectly powered by falling water and Mercury.

The Copenhagen city hall has what is billed as a complete astronomical clock, set in an interior cabinet. The clock was designed over a period of 50 years by amateur astronomer and professional clockmaker Jens Olsen. It was assembled from 1948 to 1955. From 1995 to 1997 the clock underwent complete restoration.

The Palace of Versailles near Paris has a sumptuous rococo table top astronomical clock which took 12 years for a clockmaker and an engineer to build. It was presented to Louis XV in 1754.

The Gros Horloge in Rouen is a famous astronomical clock (14th century), located in the Gros Horloge street.

The Zytglogge in Bern is a famous astronomical clock from the 15. century situated in the Capital of Switzerland.

See also

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