Orrery

ˈôrərē

Noun

  • A mechanical model of the solar system, or of just the sun, Earth, and moon, used to represent their relative positions and motions.

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Example Sentences

“The antique orrery held a place of honor in the library.”

“My grandmother still has the styrofoam orrery I made in elementary school, with Jupiter painted pink.”

“The orrery received quite a bit of use in the science class during the space lessons.”

Word Origin

British English, early 18th century

Why this word?

An orrery is a model of the solar system; the moniker traces back to a commission from Charles Boyle, the 4th Earl of Orrery. It’s believed the first mechanical model of the sun and the planets was made by horologist (clockmaker) George Graham around 1713, and Boyle commissioned him to make another shortly after. Boyle, while more of a politician than a scientist, was known for collecting scientific devices and new technologies of the time, such as telescopes, microscopes, and the device that was named in honor of his own patronage.

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ˌdāno͞oˈmäN