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Sorry for the lack of posting, I’m currently in Denmark and out most days visiting castles and museums. It’s a hard life!

I recently went to a renaissance castle just North of Copenhagen called Frederiksborg Slot. It was a bit of an accident, actually, because I was looking for Hamlet’s castle at Helsingor and got on the wrong train. It turned out well though, because Frederiksborg Slot has been restored and converted into the Museum of National History, and inside was this beautiful astronomical clock.

An astronomical clock in Fredriksborg Slot, Denmark. Scorpio is in blue underneath the bare bottom, and Sagittarius to the right.

On the armillary it says “Dies verck von mir selbst Inventiert hab ich mit Gott wol ausgefuhrt. Andrews Bosch Buxenmacher von Limpurg Anno 1657.” Seems German to me (though could be Danish, seeing as it was Denmark) and my rough translation makes it something like “this work, by myself invented, have I with God created.” Made in 1657.

It shows a Copernican solar system, with clockwork inside the sphere and within a wooden base. Back in those days, it would have been hand cut – just imagine the precision required!

Clockwork inside the astronomical clock.

The sphere on the outside shows a fixed outer frame of the horizon system, with zodiac pictures. Inside is another frame that is moved by clockwork, showing the celestial equator. One rotation within it takes 25,000 years, the time it takes for the precession when the Earth’s North axial pole moves in a complete circle around the ecliptic pole, during the movement (after a few thousand years) Polaris will no longer be the North Star.

In 1825, it was moved to the Copenhagen observatory to replace Tycho Brahes globe, which was destroyed by fire about a hundred years before. Shortly later, it was donated to the Museum of National History inside the castle by J.C. Jacobsen of Carlsberg fame.

The clock in entirety.

Shining brass and bright paint made it magnificent, worthy of the maker’s skill and scientific understanding of the stars. Art and science, gotta love it. There’s something about astronomy that engenders art, I think. It invites imagination.

Gold and blue constellation art on the ceiling.