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The Wonders of Orreries: A Fascinating Look at the Mechanical Model of the Solar System.

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A small orrery showing Earth and the inner planets
A small orrery (like the one on display at The Greenwich Museum) shows Earth and the inner planets. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

So, what is an orrery?

Have you ever heard of an orrery? If not, you’re not alone. An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system that shows the positions and motions of the planets and moons.

Ferguson Orrery illustration.
Ferguson Orrery illustration. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The history of the orrery can be traced back to the early 18th century when they were first created as educational tools to help people understand the movements of the planets. The first orrery was built by George Graham in 1713, and it quickly gained popularity as a way to teach astronomy.

Imagine a beautifully crafted model, typically made of brass or other metals, with a central sun and planets attached on rotating arms. Some models even include moons and other celestial bodies, adding to their intricate design. By turning a crank or handle, the user sets the orrery in motion, and a mesmerizing dance of the planets around the sun begins.

Orrey, cutesy The royal maritime museum London.
Orrey, cutesy The royal maritime museum London.

One of the most famous orreries is the one built by John Rowley for the Earl of Orrery in the 18th century. This orrery was so impressive that it became known as the “Orrery” and eventually gave its name to all similar models.

Today, orreries are still used as educational tools but are also valued as works of art and scientific instruments. Some modern orreries even incorporate digital technology to provide more accurate and detailed representations of the solar system.

LAZRU Solar System Building Kit
LAZRU Solar System Building Kit. Available here.
Eaglemoss Orrery Model
Eaglemoss Orrery Model. Available here.

If you’re interested in seeing an orrery for yourself, there are many examples on display in museums around the world. One of the most famous is the orrery at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, which was built in the 18th century and is still in working order today.

Solaris orrery Coffee Table by Animaro.
Solaris orrery Coffee Table by Animaro. Buy now!

In conclusion, an orrery is a fascinating and intricate model of the solar system that has a rich history and continues to be valued for its educational and scientific significance.

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