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The Orrery (c. 1980)


  • Kit Manufacturer: Rosedale Products, UK
  • Major Material: Plastic
  • Work Experience: This vintage, out of production plastic orrery kit was manufactured in the 1980's by Rosedale Products, located at unit 18, Sandall Road, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, UK. In addition to the building instruction sheet, the kit also include a booklet and a tape cassette entitled "Our Planet in Motion," by Patrick Moore, presenter of "The Sky at Night," to describe the planet motion of the solar system and the setting of the orrery.

    I have airbrushed and dry brushed the gears and the frames to achieve a metallic and antique appearance of the device. Besides, I have abandoned the spring motor that comes with the kit and motorized the instrument instead with a 110v, 6rpm synchronous motor. The wooden motor case and the base plate are also scratch built. Consequently, it took me about one and a half week to build this otherwise simple press fit model.


Historical Notes: Since the Middle Ages planetary machines had been constructed to show the relative motions of the Sun and Moon and occasionally of planets. Often extremely sophisticated astronomical clocks were constructed. The orrery was a much simpler machine, and could therefore be produced in greater numbers. It was invented in about 1704 by the celebrated London clockmaker George Graham and copied by John Rowley, another clockmaker. In 1712 Rowley produced the example now exhibited in the Science Museum, London, for Charles Boyle, the fourth Earl of Orrery, after whom it was named. - quoted from Treasures of the Science Museum, A catalogue for the exhibition in Japan, 1998.

Overview of the Instrument   |  Side View   |  Planatry Gear Train   |  Top View
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