Reply: A Dutch Residing Room
Within the Dutch metropolis of Franeker, there’s a small and unassuming house that homes a planetarium on the ceiling of its lounge. The intricate and mechanically pushed mannequin of our photo voltaic system is over 230 years outdated and, as such, is the oldest functioning planetarium in existence—and if you wish to get very technical about it and even perhaps study a brand new phrase immediately, it’s the oldest functioning orrery, or mechanical mannequin of the photo voltaic system, on the planet.
How, precisely, did a small house within the Netherlands grow to be a planetarium? To reply that query, now we have to dig into the historical past of 1 good however beginner Dutch astronomer by the title of Eise Eisinga. The son of a wool employee, Eisinga wasn’t allowed to go to high school however was, as an alternative, compelled to review his father’s craft. Regardless of this, he educated himself and revealed his first work on astronomy on the age of 17. Later in life, he even served as a professor on the Franeker Academy.
Eisinga started work on his planetarium throughout the summer season of 1774. Earlier that very same yr, Reverend Eelco Alta revealed a guide claiming that an impending conjunction of the Moon and the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter would trigger all 5 cosmic our bodies to collide, with the consequence being that the Earth can be pushed out of its orbit and burned by the Solar. This prediction brought on an inordinate quantity of panic among the many public and Eisinga, as a service to the general public, started engaged on an intricate mannequin of the photo voltaic system with a purpose to present that the prediction and its foretold end result was false.
The whole venture took 7 years (way over the 6 months Eisinga had initially predicted) and featured a fancy system of wood rings fitted with hundreds of hand-forged nails to function cog-teeth. Regardless of its age, the equipment nonetheless tracks the location of planets in our photo voltaic system with precision—a testomony to each the standard of the development and the information of the builder.