Man Made Moon: St Paul’s as Selenosphere

Full Moon & Full St Paul’s Dome

The dome of St Paul’s is arguably the most important object in London: a lead covered baroque sun around which the the rest of the city revolves. And perhaps its not so strange to think of this hemispherical thing as some kind of celestial body. After all Christopher Wren was as much an astronomer as he was architect. As astronomer, Wren built instruments and telescopes with which he produced accurate maps of the moon. In 1661, he created a lunar globe, otherwise known as a selenosphere, for Charles II. The globe was described as ”being made of paseboard, molded in relief and painter with a scale in miles, and which bore the courtly, contrived inscription: “To Charles the Second, King of Britain, France and Scotland, for whom Dr. Christopher Wren has created the new world of this Selenosphere, because, for one of His magnitude, “one [world] is not enough”.”

This is a proposal to turn the dome of St Paul’s dome into a man made moon. Wren’s building is transformed into a selenosphere, a hemispherical map of the moon synced through its lighting with the phases of the moon. The cathedrals dome and the moon would hover over London as though it were a city on a planet with two moons. St Paul’s becomes a secular device linking our earthly concerns with the heavenly realm.

3/4 Moon & 3/4 St Paul’s Dome

1/2 Moon & 1/2 St Paul’s Dome

Crescent Moon & Crescent St Paul’s Dome

Diagram showing how a spotlight circles around the dome at a speed that matches the rate of change of the moons phases.

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