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Celestial globe

Smith and Sons1790

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences

This celestial globe is reputed to have arrived in Australia with Governor Brisbane in late 1821 but we are not certain whether it was installed in the Observatory or remained in Old Government House with Brisbane's other furniture. These globes were more than just furniture however as they were originally used educational purposes. In the words of George Adams, "Terrestrial and celestial globes, are the instruments best adapted to convey natural and genuine ideas of astronomy and geography to young minds."

One of the problems which faced globe makers was the changing nature of the heavens and earth due to new discoveries and the increased precision of instruments. This globe was made by Smith & Sons around the end of the 1700s and given the amount of new information gathered by astronomers around this period the details would no doubt have been out of date fairly quickly.

An inventory of instruments at Parramatta Observatory made in 1847 includes a pair of globes but this particular globe was donated to the Sydney Observatory much later. The donors were relatives of James Dunlop one of the original astronomers housed at Parramatta Observatory and for this reason it was presumed to be one of the globes which Brisbane brought to Australia. Regardless of its provenance it remains a highly significant example of the excellence of the British globe maker's skills at the end of the end of the 1700s.

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  • Title: Celestial globe
  • Creator: Smith and Sons
  • Date: 1790
  • Location: London, England
  • Physical Dimensions: 1200mm (h) x 550mm (w) x 550mm (d)
  • See MAAS website: See PHM Collection record

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