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In times when clock works were imprecise in maintaining their continuous precision, it was necessary to keep correcting them, comparing clocks with other clocks and the best way to do this was according to the then sun clock measurements - the sun dials.Initially- clocks, the Orloj included, were 'tuned' according to the local sun position and had to be continually 'corrected' accordingly.
As the development of clockwork mechanisms progressed, soon clocks could run with more precision than sun dials and were based on the central local sun position. Astronomers then came to worry about time precision by synchronizing the precision of clocks according to star configurations and their movement around the Earth.
Basically, the Orloj is a clock with a history line better than a Grisham novel plot, (see below).
It does astronomical 'things' and also entertains about every tourist who comes to Prague for at least three minutes. .....if it weren't for the appearance of the Apostles, who 'do their thing' at the chime of every hour, watching the Orloj - for most people would be like waiting for a plank to warp. Peter with a key and he is the patron saint to fishermen, locksmiths and clockmakers. Mathew is next with an axe and is the patron saint for builders, carpenters, blacksmiths and butchers. John can be seen castigating a snake being the patron saint of printers and writers St. Philip with another cross and is the patron saint for hatters St.
The originals of these can be found on the sides of the stairway of the Prague Museum of History. Basic concept The concept of the Orloj as an astronomical clock, was to represent the course of the sun and stars just like the real thing and the main task was to show with precision the exact point in the afternoon when the sun was at it's highest.
This is why the Orloj was always timed to the real sun time using sun dials (vertical sticks dependant on sun and shadow to measure time).
Further developments in clockwork mechanisms made it necessary or viable to be able to divide time into units.
The Orloj, also known as The Prague Astronomical Clock is one of the oldest European clocks of its kind (the first ever originated in Padua in 1344 and a second in Strasbourg in 1354) and continues to hold its exceptional position.The second gears the indicator of the Sun and rotates once a mean solar day.The third gearing the Moon's pointer rotates accordingly with the mean apparent motion of the Moon.The ball, half silvered and half black, rotates every synodic month and displays its phase.The Calendar is the bottom part of the Orloj with month symbols painted by Josef Manes in 1805.Standing under the Orloj at the chime of the hour is not just simply gaping at an old clock. The Apostles come out in a procession - this happens in the top part of the Orloj. Once the windows close, a cockerel flaps and crows in an alcove and then the chimes of the hour can be heard.