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The astrolabe is an astronomical instrument that is used to calculate the position of the stars. It is a circle divided into degrees with a mobile arm mounted in the center. When the zero point of the circle is oriented with the horizon, the height of any celestial object can be measured by observing the position of the arm.
The astrolabe was already used in ancient Greece, with Hipparchus of Nicea being the first astronomer we know who used it. Until being replaced by the sextants, in the 18th century, astrolabs were the fundamental instruments used by navigators.
The photo on the left shows a classic astronomical astrolabe from the 16th century. The photograph on the right shows a universal Hispanic astrolabe of 1563, such as those invented in the eleventh century by Toledo Azarquiel. These instruments were used to obtain the height of the sun, or of the stars, in order to deduce the latitude of the place.
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