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Celestial Globe


This instrument consists of a small globe contained in a wooden box.

The wooden box is roughly cubic, with a brass-coloured metal hand on the top and two latches on the side two hold the box closed. On the interior of the lid, there are instructions for use of the globe and slid onto a metal rod, four sliding pieces with indicator arrows that can be used to indicate points on the globe.

The globe sits in the lower half of the box with a wooden surround so that only the upper hemisphere of the globe is visible. It is held in place by a circular metal ring that attaches to the top of the globe via a small metal peg that is inserted into a small hole at the ‘north pole’ of the globe. There was originally a matching piece affixing the ring to the south pole; this has become detached.

Around the equator of the globe, affixed to the wood, there is a metal ring with a scale etched on it, in degrees of a circle. Fitted over the globe there are two half-circle rings that are fitted together at right angles at the top with a small metal ball and attached at the base by a ring, creating a hemispherical frame. This fits over the globe and can be freely lifted off and moved.

The globe itself is heavy, likely made of solid wood, and the surface is cream in colour. The map is printed on varnished paper and indicates important and prominent stars and constellations. There are two small holes with a metal-lined edge in the wooden surround next to the globe.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.236

Alternative Name: Husun Star Globe

Primary Materials:

Wood, Metal: Copper Alloy, Paper, Varnish.


Printed on the globe: “THE HUSUN STAR GLOBE

Etched on the metal rim around the equator of the globe: “H. H. & S.
NO. 3959”

Printed on a paper label stuck to the interior of the lid: “INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE OF STAR GLOBE”

Dimensions (cm):

Height = 27.5, Width = 26.5, Length = 26.5.


This star globe was intended to aid with navigation via the stars, particularly at sea. Information in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics Records reads: “Celestial globes have been used for astronomy education since the 15h century, if not before. This specialized example, invented by Lieutenant English of the Royal Navy, was designed and marketed specifically to solve problems in marine navigation—and indeed was intended for shipboard use. Like the spherical blackboard, this celestial globe could be used to solve problems in spherical trigonometry. It could be drawn on with wax pencils, red and blue being the preferred colours.”


Very Good: The exterior of the box is dented and market in numerous places; however, the box, handles, and latches are intact. The exterior brass components are dulled.

The globe itself is in very good condition. There are a few small marks on the varnished surface and one or two very small places where the varnish has been chipped off. The upper peg which holds the globe in place is intact; the lower one is not. This part is contained in a small plastic bag on the interior of the box (underneath the globe).

Associated Instruments:

Manufacturer: H. Hudson & Son Ltd., London

Date of Manufacture: c. 1920


This artifact may have been used for teaching at the Department for the Astronomy & Astrophysics or at the David Dunlap Observatory. If the former, it was probably moved at some point to the Observatory for storage. The sphere was kept at the David Dunlap Observatory until 2009. Upon the sale of the Observatory, it was moved to the University of Toronto’s Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the St George Campus. In 2017 it was moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: