Astronomical Clock replaced with LED screen

The city has put up a virtual clock to offer tourists a view of how it should look

Tourists have been disappointed since January that the Astronomical Clock at Old Town Square has been out of operation for renovations. The city has now put up a temporary replacement so visitors can at least see what the original looked like.

The virtual Astronomical Clock was launched March 14 at 3 pm with a procession of the Apostles.

“A modern LED screen on the tower of Old Town Hall provides Prague residents and tourists with the experience of the astronomical clock. … The LED screen is 5.56 x 3.84 meters and weighs about 1,000 kilograms. It was necessary to adjust the scaffolding for safety and make a special design to attach [the screen],” City Hall announced on its website.

The screen is equipped with a sensor that automatically adjusts the image brightness according to the lighting conditions.

The complicated clock works like an astrolabe, showing the positions of the sun and moon in the zodiac against a colored background depicting night and day, among other things. Software was developed to replicate the movements of the various arms and wheels on the clock face. The video is accompanied by sound effects of the rooster and the tolling of bells. The soundtrack will be off during the night hours.

The virtual clock follows a few days after the clocks at the top of the tower were replaced with ones that look like they did before World War II. The Baroque form of the clocks differs from the appearance of the modern ones not only by gilding on the numbers and hands but also by an inner minute dial, marked in quarter hours of I, II, III and IIII, within the hourly dial I–XII dial. The minute hand circulates around this inner dial and is shorter than the hour hand.

The calendar wheel under the Astronomical Clock was replaced with a photographic copy last year. The wheel is being repainted based on the original by Josef Manes.

The main part of the repairs to the Astronomical Clock will last until the scheduled relaunch timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Czechoslovakia on Oct. 28, 2018, though it may be back in place sooner for testing.

Eight wooden sculptures from the lower part of the clock are having their attributes restored.

The clockwork mechanism for the Astronomical Clock is being restored to how it worked in the 1860s. It was replaced with a modern mechanism after World War II.

The Astronomical Clock was first built in 1410, redesigned in 1490 and again in 1552–72.

The clock underwent a large renovation in 1797–91, and the rotating Apostles were added around this time. Another repair took place in 1865–61, and the sound of the rooster was added. More repairs took place in 1912.

The clock was damaged by fire in 1945 in the final days of the war, and repairs took until 1948. The figures of Apostles also had to be replaced with new ones.

The Orloj, as it is also called, is the third-oldest Astronomical Clock in the world and the oldest one still operating.

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