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Ferguson"s Mechanical Paradox Orrery

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- All Extended Uses
Included Formats
Solidworks Assembly 2013
Other Parasolid

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3D Model Specifications
Product ID:542888
UV Mapped:Yes
Unwrapped UVs:No
TurboSquid Member Since June 2010
Currently sells 82 products
Product Rating

James Ferguson (1710-1776), a humble Scotsman with but three months education, rose to become a leading 18th century educator and a prolific writer of scientific books.   He invented, manufactured and sold many teaching aids used to explain astronomical principles as known to science at the time.

This simple device illustrated the direct motion of the moon’s apogee and the retrograde motion of its nodes, using the clever concept of epicyclic gearing, in common use today in many mechanisms. By rotating the mechanism around the astrological dial, the device could be “set” to the proper season, and indicate the motion and relationship of the Moon to Earth, as well as the movement of the earth Axis. It was a very popular teaching aid, and Ferguson made many over the years. Quite crude, it was made of wood and printed paper; very few survive.

The Model

My fully animated SolidWorks™ CAD model was based on an illustration in Geared to the Stars, by Henry C. King, but I chose to model it as it may have appeared if constructed by a master clockmaker of the period. It is a project in the field of Industrial Archeology (IA).

Ferguson’s Orrery would make an excellent “scientific instrument” prop for CG imaging and rendering. The high resolution model has 221,020 polys, and offers excellent close-up rendering. All appropriate surfaces/features are UV mapped. The model contains all of the shafts and bearings, and could be easily animated using appropriate software.

I have received many inquiries for IGES files from teachers to use in CNC, woodworking and metalworking courses in middle-schools to college level. The Orrery is a fascinating object of scientific importance even today, and offers a multi-disciplinary “class project” for students. If made, the wheels should be constructed from soft wood. One wheel is peculiar in that it is the same diameter as the others in the stack, but with a different tooth count. It is necessary to hand adjust this wheel to properly engage its mate.

Please see also my other projects by clicking on the Gould Studios link at the top of the page.

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