orrery

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Named after Charles Boyle, 4th Earl of Orrery (1676-1731), for whom such a device was made.

Pronunciation[edit]

a small orrery

Noun[edit]

orrery (plural orreries)

  1. A clockwork model of any given solar system.
    • 1719, John Harris, Astronomical dialogues between a gentleman and a lady, page 151:
      In the mean time I have another trouble to give you, if you will oblige me in it; and that is to get me a sight of the famous Orrery, which I have heard you and others so often speak of; and which I think was made by Mr. Rowley, the famous Mathematical Instrument-Maker.
    • 1784, William Jones, The description and use of a new portable orrery: on a most simple construction:
      To conclude; the Candor and Forgiveness of the Reader is here entreated for Errors or Imperfections he possibly may discover in the following pages, as they are the production of one, whose engagements in business will admit but a small portion of time for an endeavor to explain the most conspicuous, and interesting phenomena of the Heavenly Bodies, by his new portable Orrey.
    • 1985, John Fowles, A Maggot:
      To which his answer was: why, that God is eternal motion, Lacy. This is his first orrery.
    • 1997, Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon:
      Ethelmer for a split second is gazing straight up into her nostrils, one of which now flares into pink illumination as Pitt’s Taper sets alight the central Lanthorn of the Orrery, representing the Sun. The other Planets wait, all but humming, taut within their spidery Linkages back to the Crank-Shaft and the Crank, held in the didactic Grasp of the Revd Cherrycoke.