Inside the Collection

Meccano orrery for Earth Hour

Meccano model of an orrery
2010/1/90 Meccano model of an orrery, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England. 1960-1975 (detail)  

Saturday 29th March 2014 from 8.30pm to 9.30pm EST is Earth Hour, when we get the chance to turn off the lights and possibly consider our place in the universe.

This Meccano orrery is a clever mechanical device used to demonstrate the position, motions and phases of our Earth and the Moon as we orbit the Sun. This motion explains much about our planet; day and night, the seasons, the tides and the prevailing direction of weather systems through the atmosphere.

A system of rotating gears and cogs powered by a small motor operates the orrery. The Sun is represented by a ping pong ball which can be illuminated by a small light bulb. The cogs and gears shown in the detail above allow the Earth and the Moon to rotate correctly. The model came from the collection of Assoc Professor Allan Bromley of Sydney University. Among many interests, Allan Bromley had an extensive knowledge of mathematics, clocks and mechanical engineering. We know he enjoyed playing with Meccano but don’t know if he constructed this orrery himself. The museum’s collection contains many other fine examples of Meccano models and kits. 

If you decide to turn off the electricity off for Earth Hour there are many fun activities to consider (see these suggestions from Curator, Anni Turnbull).  It is also an opportunity to think about the future of our beautiful planet as it circles though the endless universe.

Meccano model of an orrery
2010/1/90 Meccano model of an orrery, metal / plastic / glass / electronic material, made by Meccano Ltd, Liverpool, England. 1960-1975

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web and Social Technologies





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