Science: The Glory of the Orrery

In 1771, a college without an orrery* was as behind the times as a modern university without a cyclotron. So, for £229 115. 6d., the College of New Jersey bought one of the mechanical planetariums from a Philadelphia clockmaker and installed it in Nassau Hall. When it worked, students of "Natural Philosophy" watched planets on long arms circle about a 4 ft. universe. The sun and moon moved in their appointed orbits; hands pointed to the proper phase of the zodiac marked on a brass ring that encircled the painted, deep-blue sky. Near the top, an inset dial indicated the day,...

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