Earliest Known Astrolabe Confirmed by 3D Imaging

University of Warwick

An artifact recovered in 2014 from the wreck of one of Vasco da Gama’s exploring ships, the Esmereldawhich sank in the Indian Ocean 1503, was believed to be an astrolabe, a navigation tool used to measure the inclination of celestial objects, but the 17.5-cm bronze disc appeared to lack any navigational markings. Scanning and 3D imaging the object at the University of Warwick revealed etches separated by five degrees along the edge, confirming that it was, in fact, an astrolabe. It’s dated to between 1495 and 1500, roughly, which makes it the oldest known astrolabe still in existence. BBC News. [Tony Campbell]

Author: Jonathan Crowe

I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis.