Our newest exhibit on our Rooftop Terrace is inspired by the upside down panoramic view you see in the crystal ball in a Cambell-Stokes sun recorder. Camera Obscura's general manager first saw one of these at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh and wanted to recreate the experience of seeing a fantastic view encapsulated in a crystal ball. Read more about the Royal Botanic Garden's sun recorder here.
The Campbell-Stokes recorder was invented in Scotland in 1853, which coincidentally is the same year we moved to our current site! The first such instrument was constructed in 1853 by renowned Scottish author of Celtic Folklore, and scholar, John Francis Campbell, and modified by Irish Physicist G.G. Stokes in 1879, hence its double-barrelled name Campbell-Stokes. The device consists of a solid glass sphere that concentrates the sun's rays to an intense spot on a calibrated paper, resulting in a burn. As the sun blazes across the sky, the hot image of the sun traces a scorching path on the paper. The intensity and the position of the burn indicates the time and the strength of the sunshine.
However, you may notice we aren't recording the hours of sunshine with ours. Our aim instead was to have another way to share one of the best views you can get anywhere, of Edinburgh. The view from our Rooftop Terrace is spectacular at all times of the day, and our newest exhibit proves that it's just as stunning encapsulated upside-down in the crystal ball. During your next visit to Camera Obscura, make sure you get a photo of The Globe and see the view it traps in it's glass sphere.
Sources: Amusing Planet