© Swiss National Museum

Name of Object:

Celestial globe


Zurich, Switzerland

Holding Museum:

Swiss National Museum


AD 1594

Type of object:

Celestial globe


Jost Bürgi

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Brass golden plated, engraved, chased


H: 25,5cm, Diameter of the globe: 14,2cm


Germany, Kassel, Hessen


As everyone knows, 29 February is a leap day and appears on the calendar only once every four years. The day was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The new Gregorian calendar finally did justice to the fact that a year has 365.2425 days. Only four years later, Jost Bürgi, a brilliant astronomer, mathematician, clockmaker, and maker of astronomical instruments, built a celestial globe incorporating the new calendar for the German Kaiser. He developed the first-ever mechanical system to display 29 February in leap years. Bürgi was born in what is today the canton of St. Gallen and worked with the famous astronomer Johannes Kepler at the imperial court in Prague. In addition to the celestial globe, he also invented many other things. He was the first person to draw up a logarithmic table. Additionally, he built a clock with three hands, thereby creating the second as a unit of time.

Current Owner:

Swiss Confederation

How date and origin were established:

According to an Inscription on the lower side of the globe

How Object was obtained:

Donated in 1978

Citation of this web page:

 "Celestial globe" in MWNF GALLERIES , Museum With No Frontiers, 2019. http://www.museumwnf.org/thematicgallery/thg_galleries/database_item.php?itemId=objects;GALLERIES;sw;Mus01;15;en&id=scientific_objects

MWNF Working Number: CH_GAL_015

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