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Tuesday, 5 June, 2001, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Historic globes go missing
Globes
The globes are thought to be worth tens of thousands of pounds
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

Three valuable, historic globes of the Moon and Mars have been stolen from London's Science Museum.

On 10 May they were locked away, while being photographed for a new exhibition. Five days later, they were discovered missing.

Museum officials say that police have started an enquiry.

Specialists in old scientific instruments and maps have been told to look out for the globes.

'We miss them'

A spokesperson for the museum confirmed to BBC News Online that the globes had been taken.

She declined, however, to put a price on them saying that it was the museum's policy not to say how much they were worth as this would be of assistance to the person who had them. "Suffice to say we miss them," was all she would say.

Globe
The globe details lunar craters
One of the globes was of the Moon and is 15 cm (6 inches) in size on a wooden stand. It was made in the late 19th Century under the supervision of the great French astronomer Camille Flammarion.

On its back is a list of 343 lunar craters.

The other two globes were of the planet Mars. One of them was also based on observations made by Flammarion.

Perhaps the most precious globe stolen was one made in collaboration between Flammarion and the influential planetary astronomer of the 19th Century, E M Antoniadi.

'Cosmic globes'

Collectors would pay tens of thousands of pounds for it, sources have told BBC News Online.

The museum says that it has alerted the international scientific community to be on the lookout for the globes.

Meanwhile, the museum's "Cosmic Globes" exhibition will open on 12 June as planned.

Despite the loss it will include an exhibition of Moon globes from the 18th Century to the Space Age.

It also includes globes from China and the Islamic world and what is believed to be the oldest surviving printed star globe, dated around 1532.

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16 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Oldest lunar calendar identified
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