Astrolabe

An astrolabe (Ancient Greek: ἀστρολάβος astrolabos; Arabic: ٱلأَسْطُرلاب al-Asturlāb; Persian: ستاره‌یاب Setāreyāb) is an ancient astronomical instrument that was a handheld model of the universe. Its various functions also make it an elaborate inclinometer and an analogue calculation device capable of working out several kinds of problems in astronomy. Historically used by astronomers, it is able to measure the altitude above the horizon of a celestial body, day or night; it can be used to identify stars or planets, to determine local latitude given local time (and vice versa), to survey, or to triangulate. It was used in classical antiquity, the Islamic Golden Age, the European Middle Ages and the Age of Discovery for all these purposes.

A modern astrolabe made in Tabriz, Iran in 2013.

The astrolabe's importance comes not only from the early developments into the study of astronomy,[1] but is also effective for determining latitude on land or calm seas. Although it is less reliable on the heaving deck of a ship in rough seas, the mariner's astrolabe was developed to solve that problem.