The moon in Saxony’s sciences – Part 1

Elector Augustus of Saxony (1526-1586) pursued numerous interests. He accumulated extensive hands-on experience in domains such as precision mechanics, mineralogy and cartography, but also nurtured great enthusiasm for the sciences and the arts. The elector was a particularly avid observer of the nocturnal skies. He personally liaised with academics and other interested monarchs of his era and acquired a multitude of astronomical instruments. The Mathematics and Physics Salon in Dresden owes a very impressive exhibit to the elector’s close ties with William IV, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel: Eberhard Bal-dewein’s planetary clock.

The Dresden art chamber encompassed more than 10,000 objects from a wide range of scientific disciplines and occupied seven rooms in the Dresden palace.

The first hall was reserved for Augustus’ favourite artefacts and presented mainly astrological and astronomical instruments. A mechanism that made it possible to depict the moon realistically was an indispensable element of many of the devices exhibited there. The position of the Earth’s companion in the nocturnal skies and its constantly varying face repeatedly challenged scholars and artists to hone their skills, because the calculation of the lunar orbit and moon phases remained imprecise for a long time and often deviated from actual observations. Despite the fact that the parameters are now known, the exact mechanical replication of the synodic orbit is still a daunting task for watchmakers.

Some models in this year’s A. Lange & Söhne collection are dedicated to this fascinating celestial body in a special way. In the GRAND LANGE 1 MOON PHASE, the earth’s satellite moves into the focus of attention and presents itself in the centre of the hour and minute circle. The patented orbital moon-phase display in the RICHARD LANGE PERPETUAL CALENDAR “Terraluna” reproduces the constellation of the moon relative to the Earth and the sun with the utmost precision. The lucid dial layout of the LANGE 1 TOURBILLON PERPETUAL CALENDAR also delivers accurate information about the current phase of the moon.