Astronomical Clock Face to be Repainted

Prague Morning

Prague Morning

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The main clock face on the Astronomical Clock at Old Town Square is going to be repainted, as experts have said the new look is inaccurate. The clock, including the face underwent an extensive eight-month renovation that ended Sept. 28, 2018. the repairs to the clock cost some Kč 10 million.

But even before it was unveiled, experts from the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Culture were concerned about the lack of consultation over the design. Last year’s renovation was the first complete dismantling of the clock since it was repaired after World War II to fix fire damage that occurred in the final days of the war. 

The clock, aside from telling time, functions as an astrolabe and shows data about the position of the sun and the moon, and other astrological data.

Zdislav Šíma of the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic has been overseeing the clock for four decades. He said the face, which now has an airbrushed look fading from dark to light red, lacks the detail to read the astrolabe properly. It used to have sharp divisions between dark and light.

“The Astronomical Clock is painted in an unacceptable way, and it must be changed,” Šíma told Czech Television. “Those lines on the astronomical clock mark exact moments, the boundaries of certain events. This [new face] is probably something like somebody making fuzzy lines on a sundial,” he added.

Other experts in science agree that the changes to the face were a poor idea. The face, though, has changed many times over the centuries and there is no good record of what it originally looked like.

City spokesman Tadeáš Provazník said the city has already started the repairs, and the work will take a month. “There has been a poor application of shaded color. Subsequently, we came to found the need for a total light repainting,” he said.

The Astronomical Clock was first mentioned in a document in 1410. It was redesigned in 1490 and again in 1552–72.  It underwent a large renovation in 1787–1791, and the rotating Apostles were added. Another repair took place in 1865–66. More repairs took place in 1912.

Some errors to the Astronomical Clock face were fixed in 1979. Further repairs took place 1984–86.  It is the third-oldest Astronomical Clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.

Author: Raymond Jonhston


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