from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mechanical model of the solar system.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a clockwork model of the solar system

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An apparatus which illustrates, by the revolution of balls moved by wheelwork, the relative size, periodic motions, positions, orbits, etc., of bodies in the solar system.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A machine so constructed as to represent, by the movements of its parts, the motions and phases of the planets in their orbits. Similar machines are also called planetariums and cosmoscopes.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. planetarium consisting of an apparatus that illustrates the relative positions and motions of bodies in the solar system by rotation and revolution of balls moved by wheelwork; sometimes incorporated in a clock


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

After Charles Boyle, Fourth Earl of Orrery (1676-1731), for whom one was made.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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


  • Other beginning words, such as orrery, posset and mornay, also defeated spellers.'s Homepage Articles

  • In contrast with the orrery by which we might symbolise the structural integrity so crucial to Rationalism in its aesthetic of the logical, the thunderbolt signifies the dynamism of the ruptures at the heart of all strange fiction (in which I include not just the fantastic but the tragic and the comic.)

    On the Sublime

  • I love this simple wooden orrery from Muji's gift lineup.

    Boing Boing

  • The Book of Common Prayer in the priest's coat pocket, contains an elaborate system, a liturgical orrery, for the public marking of time.

    The Book of Common Prayer, part 5: The importance of evensong

  • The click of the turbine, gurgling away, still powering the decaying house, reminds me of the orrery which Smokey Barnable sets in motion.


  • - From same, how to make a Tellurium, an orrery-like device that shows the movements of the earth and the moon.


  • Among other steampunk-related items (including a very bike-messenger version of an orrery) I found this astrolabe, which I think is really wonderful.

    Archive 2007-04-01

  • Wishing to built an orrery my first step was to make a drawing.

    Archive 2007-03-01

  • To see them in the twisting wires of the canopy and to discover these forces was like looking at an orrery, a model of the solar system, and my nest-star joined these others in their universe, and I could feel the suck of their atmospheres as we passed beneath them through the wood.

    A Year on the Wing

  • Just being able to type orrery without screwing up is an accomplishment.

    Useful and Beautiful Devices | clusterflock


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  • One of the great stories that involves this word involved Sir Issac Newton. He had such a device, and an atheist scientist asked him who had built such a wondrous device. Newton responded pointedly, "No-one."

    April 2, 2009

  • "... an astronomical machine, for representing the motions and appearances of the heavenly bodies; and hence often called Planetarium, which article see.

    "The reason of the name Orrery is as follows:—Mr. Rowley, a mathematical instrument maker, having got one from Mr. George Graham, the original inventor, to be sent on board a ship, with some of his own instruments, he copied it, and made the first for the Earl of Orrery; Sir Richard Steel, who knew nothing of Mr. Graham's Invention, thinking to do justice to the first encourager, as well as to the inventor of such a curious instrument, called it an Orrery, and gave Rowley the praise which was due to Mr. Graham. See Desagulier's Experim. Philos. vol I. p. 430."

    Falconer's New Universal Dictionary of the Marine (1816), 328

    October 14, 2008

  • 1. an apparatus for representing the positions, motions, and phases of the planets, satellites, etc., in the solar system.

    2. any of certain similar machines, as a planetarium.

    Origin: 1705–15; named after Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery (1676–1731), for whom it was first made

    October 26, 2007