Yesterday I was at Wells Cathedral, the smallest city in the UK. Despite the fact that the city is small (about 12,000 inhabitants), it has a huge cathedral and a bishop’s palace, with a garden where you can get lost. In the cathedral I came across something wonderful with an astronomical twist. In the northern part of the church there was a large bell with several rings of Roman numerals. It turns out to be the world’s second oldest working mechanical watch, dating somewhere around 1392. In the outer ring are 24 digits, which represent the hours of a day. A large star with rays representing the sun indicating the hours. A ring appears with 60 numbers inside and a smaller star indicating those minutes. This second ring is not from the original watch, but was added in the 17th century. In the center is the Moon, which (like the outer ring of the Sun) orbits the Earth, a representation of the Earth-centric worldview that prevailed in the Middle Ages. The phases of the moon can also be seen. I was there when it was three in the evening and the mechanism of the clock began to move a number of knights over the clock chasing each other. I made this video for that.
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