Rob Walrecht’s planned super cool superplanisphere

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, February 09, 2012

Even in this electronic age, and even if you observe with a computer screen beside your telescope, you really need at least one old-school device — a planisphere. Sometimes called “star wheels,” these devices allow you to dial in your date and time and see the sky represented for the particular latitude you’re observing from. Many fine planispheres have existed for decades — now Rob Walrecht, the Dutch cartographer and creator of fine star maps, is creating a “superplanisphere” that will be more than two feet across (about 70 centimeters).

Rob Walrecht
This year, Rob’s company will have been producing planispheres for 27 years, and over that span, he has produced and sold more than 250,000 of them around the world, in various designs and languages. Rob‘s company currently produces planispheres in 14 languages, and English versions for 10 different zones of latitude, covering the world from 65° north down to 45° south — the entire populated world.

For years, Rob has dreamed of constructing a “superplanisphere” of great size that could be hung from an observatory wall. “Last year, my wife and I visited the amateur observatory Mercurius near Dordrecht in the Netherlands,” said Rob. ”One of their volunteers had made such a construction based on my design — that inspired me to design and produce a planisphere for that purpose!”

Rob plans on producing a 28-inch-round (70 cm) planisphere from sturdy materials and a nicely designed star map in English for 40° and 50° north latitude. He wants to measure how much interest exists in the product, however, and survey what potential users would want in it. If you’re interested in such a product, please email Rob at info@walrecht.nl.

You might help bring about the superplanisphere project!

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