OK, I like celestial images. There’s a picture of a really neat constellation taken with the Hubble telescope on my computer’s desktop. Long ago, when I lived in a small apartment, my toilet seat and shower curtain had pictures of the sun and moon on them. Not very realistic pictures mind you, but rather those stylized ones that resemble faces. I’ve also always been fascinated by maps, especially the old ones. The maps where all of the continents are laid out flat just like the ancient concept about the shape of the Earth. The mapmakers just made up the parts of the world that were missing and drew strange creatures around them. I’ve always liked globes too. When I was a kid, I always wanted to have all the planets hanging from the ceiling of my bedroom. Lighted globes of the solar system to serve as both a night-light and an inspiration to science.
Now you can decorate your home with a galaxy of different types of globes. There are celestial globes that map the constellations and lunar globes that show the craters of the moon. Terrestrial globes show all of the Earth’s continents, countries, and cities.
Replogle, one of two American companies that specialize in making globes, has some 120 different models to choose from. You can get your standard 12-inch blue ocean model with a plastic base for about $35, or you can spend $8500 for the deluxe floor model that features 10 color cartography, touch-on illumination, and some 20,000 place names. Between these two extremes, you can get almost anything you want from old-world inspired brown globes to futuristic ones with satellite bases.
Like sundials, globes can be used to tell time. If it’s noon where you are, you can set the globe’s time dial (that metal ring on the top) to noon facing your global direction. The other numbers on the dial show you what time it is in other parts of the world.
Vintage old globes are highly sought after by collectors. A matching set of celestial and terrestrial globes made around 1800 recently sold for $145,000. If you’re not in the mood to fork out that much cash, Restoration Hardware sells copies of some of the old globes in the $80-$180 range.
Globes can be used to decorate in many different ways. Smaller globes can be grouped together on a shelf or coffee table, and large floor models can highlight any bookshelf. There’s even an interactive globe that recites populations and travel times between countries. And because the world is always changing, both of the major globe making companies offers updated globes at a much lower price than the replacement cost of a new one.
A recent study showed that many high school seniors couldn’t find countries like China on a map. I’m sure the ones that have one or more globes in their house fared much better than average.