Orrey Renewal?

These days when people think of the word planetarium, they generally think of things like the Adler in Chicago, with a big dome and some whizzy projection equipment. Now, in a perfect world everyone would associate Starlab with the word planetarium, but after 10,000 years of trying no one has figured out how to make a perfect world.

Dome style systems are hardly the only planetaria out there. The first examples were models that displayed the motion of the Sun, moon, and planets. With gearing and drive chains, these beautiful table top objects were amazing accurate. The first known example was owned by the Earl of Orrey, hence the name.


The Orrey and similar styles haven't died off, but they have fallen mostly out of style. However, some companies still make them. Did you know that Trippensee, arguably the most famous makers of Orreys, is actually a part of Starlab? For well over 100 years Trippensee has been making some of the most accurate, reliable, and beautiful tabletop models to be found anywhere.

Please see below for a few pictures of one of the oldest units still in existence. Built some time in 1904 or 1905, it may have been one of the first ever made. While the pulleys are still in good shape, the drive belts are missing.




No Comments Yet.

Leave a comment