16 April 2012

Astronomical Clock - Cathédral St. Jean



Tucked away in a dimly lit corner of the Cathédral St. Jean in Lyon sits this astronomical clock dating back to the late 14th century. Though damaged and repaired several times throughout its 600 year history, the majority of the clock's original components remain intact — and functional — today.

At the time of its construction it was commonly believed that the earth was the center of the universe and that the sun and other celestial objects orbited around it. The fact that this worldview has since been turned upside down doesn't take away from the beauty and craftsmanship that can be seen in every fine detail.

A second clock face just below the one pictured here is a perpetual calendar showing the months of the year and is accurate for 66 years at a stretch. The next time this clock will need adjusting is in 2019, another seven years.

I doubt I own anything mechanical that will last 66 years. My digital watch and computer will have broken or fallen victim to technical obsolescence well before, and yet this clock, built sometime during the Hundred Years' War, will still be giving us the time of day, much as it has for over 600 years.

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