One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An instrument used to make astronomical measurements, typically of the altitudes of celestial bodies, and in navigation for calculating latitude, before the development of the sextant.
- ‘The construction of astronomical instruments such as the astrolabe was also a speciality of the Arabs.’
- ‘He also wrote works on astronomical instruments, for example on constructing and using an astrolabe.’
- ‘Arab craftsmen produced complex astronomical instruments, astrolabes, which helped them plot the positions of the stars and tell the time of day.’
- ‘Sophisticated instruments, which were to make possible the European voyages of discovery, were developed, including the astrolabe, the quadrant and good navigational maps.’
- ‘She was well known for her development and construction of astrolabes.’
- ‘Lavanha also studied instruments used in navigation, constructing astrolabes, quadrants and compasses.’
Late Middle English: from Old French astrelabe, from medieval Latin astrolabium, from Greek astrolabon, neuter of astrolabos ‘star-taking’.
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