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Torica Astro Globe


This is a clear plastic celestial globe with a small terrestrial globe in its centre. The base is circular and made of wood; this has been painted yellow. The globe stands on three metal legs formed out of thick rods which have been fixed to the circular base with screws. These three legs are connected at the centre by a cylindrical black plastic section.

This section supports a circular metal ring on a vertical orientation. Inside this, there is a smaller pale-green plastic ring with a raised scale molded on it (a meridian), that also goes all around the globe; this can slide so the inclination of the celestial globe can be altered. This is graduated in degrees, and labeled a ten-degree intervals in pairs of quarter-circles; one side is marked from 0 to -90 0, the other 0 to “+90” to 0 (although there is no marking at the “90” position). Between these two full rings there is a semi-circular ring, graduated in regular sections, over the top hemisphere of the globe; this can be rotated independently from the north pole, allowing it to be used over the globe.

Also connected to the outer ring there is a horizontally oriented green plastic ring, molded with a scale, that also goes around the globe (the horizon band). This is also graduated in degrees, and labelled in ten degree intervals from 0 to 360, with “S” marked on one side and “N” on the other.

At both the north and south poles of the globe, curved to sit close on the globe’s surface, there is affixed a circular grey plastic ring with a raised scale labelled in 24 equal graduations marked on it.

The metal ring and meridian combination supports the outer globe at the south and north poles. The outer globe is formed of two hemispheres of clear plastic, fitted together at the equator. Molded on the interior surface of the outer globe, there are markings indicating stars and celestial bodies, a dotted area indicating the milky way, and other significant features; major stars of constellations are marked in yellow. Most of these are labelled with Messier numbers (e.g. “M34”). Major constellations are labelled. Areas of the sky are divided up by dotted lines. The ecliptic is marked by a band and a dotted line. In the lower hemisphere of the celestial globe, there is a round hole through which the interior components can be reached; this is covered by a circular cover which is held in place by crossing plastic strips. This contains a key for the various symbols on the celestial globe.

At the centre of the celestial globe there is a small terrestrial globe. This is fitted onto to a rod that runs from the north to south pole of the celestial globe and through the north and south poles of the terrestrial globe. When the celestial globe is rotated, the globe remains in place. The globe is covered in paper strips fitted together, on which continents, some countries, oceans and other major features are printed in blues, yellows and greens.

Also inside the outer globe there are two small balls, one yellow and one red, with the red one about 1cm in diameter and the yellow about 0.5cm. Each of these is fixed to the end of one of two curved rigid wires which are connected at the other end to a knob affixed to the celestial globe just next to the globe’s north pole.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.280

Alternative Name:

Celestial Globe, Torica’s Transparent Astroglobe

Primary Materials:

Wood, Metal: Iron Alloy, Plastic, Paper, Cardboard(?)


Printed on a silver and black label stuck to the cylindrical section just below the globe: “TOKYO PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT MFG. CO. LTD.

On another label stuck to the cylindrical section: “Torica
Celestial Globe”

In embossed lettering on the circular cover: “MADE IN JAPAN”

On a sticker attached to the base: “11”

Dimensions (cm):


This globe was likely designed to teach students about the features of the night sky, and to do basic astronomical calculations. The central terrestrial globe would help with the visualisation of positions of celestial bodies and features from the Earth. The role of the internal smaller balls is unknown.


Good: The base of the globe is an alteration, likely to stablize the globe; it is marked with small dents. The metal surface of the legs is in good condition. However, the external ring and semicircular section are mottled wiht minor scratches and some corrosion where the surface has been removed. The plastic of the meridian and horizon rings is in good condition, with a few small nicks on the exterior edges.

The celestial globe is dusty and clouded.

The interior components appear to be in good condition. However a pair of orbital rings around the terrestrial globe, visible on other examples of the same model (e.g. 2019.ast.280), are missing.

Associated Instruments:

2019.ast.278, 2019.ast.279, 2019.ast.281


Tokyo Physical Instruments Manufacturing Co. Ltd, Tokyo, Japan

Date of Manufacture: c. 1960s


This globe was likely purchased for teaching by the Department of Physics or the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. In the 2000s, it was found in a room in the McLennan Physical Laboratories building on the U of T St George campus, and moved to the Astronomy Library for storage and display.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes:

This globe was originally one of 20 or 30 Torica Astro Globes that was used for teaching large astronomy classes at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Professor Emeritus John Percy, teaching at the department from the mid-1960s, remembers how these globes supplanted more substantial and expensive examples of celestial globes such as 2019.ast.268 as astronomy classes grew in size. The globes were used in large introductory tutorials, with two or three students using a single globe, sometimes in order provide a physical guide for picturing celestial coordinates:

“The interesting thing was when I started in 1967 the first thing that you did in your introductory astronomy course for non-science students was to introduce them to spherical trigonometry. The trigonometry of the celestial sphere, the right ascension and declination equivalent to longitude and latitude. That totally changed within three years because first of all students couldn’t relate to it; they were supposed to be non-science students and here you were doing spherical trigonometry with them. So that completely went out the window. But for teaching those concepts, and astronomy was taught as a more mathematical one instead of a more physical one, you had to have ways of picturing the celestial coordinates like latitude and longitude, and represent oceans on the sky and so on and so forth.”
Professor Emeritus Ernie Seaquist also remembers how globes were used in the classroom:
“…they were simply used to teach the students, you know, elementary students, first-year courses, about the locations of astronomical objects in the sky, the apparent rotation of the sky, the motion of the sun through the stars, and that kind of thing.”

Although the Torica Astro Globes were cheaper and quite flimsy than the more solid globes with metal bases and paper/card globes—the majority of the original set likely broke—Percy noted they did have an advantage over the solid globes. He remembers that,
“…we started getting these plastic ones, which did have this advantage that they were transparent so you could get a sense of how the sky looks from the centre, which is where the observer is, rather than always looking at the globe from outside, which is not the way we look at the sky; we look at it from the inside.”
The usefulness of such globes is remembered differently. Percy remembers that celestial and solar system models seemed to give a misleading impression to students, e.g. of distances and relative sizes between celestial objects. In contrast, Professor Emeritus Ernie Seaquist, working at the same time, recalled finding such globes “very, very useful.”
John Percy was interviewed on March 11, 2021.
Ernie Seaquist was interviewed on April 16, 2021.