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First Weather Instruments
Question: What was the first meteorological instrument?
The majority of general meteorological instruments were invented beginning in the 15th Century.
Cardinal Nicholas de Cusa invented the hygrometer in 1450 by measuring the increase in weight of a bag of wool(!).
The invention of the thermometer is attributed to Galileo Galilei in 1593, although the exact date is not certain.
The barometer came next in the 17th Century (1643) and is attributed to Evangelista Torricelli, an Italian who studied under Galileo.
And it wasn't until 1667, that English physicist Robert Hooke devised the first anemometer to provide a numerical measurement of wind speed.
But these instruments are but infants when it comes to the first known meteorological instrument: the wind vane or, as some folks call it, the weathervane. There are indications in the ancient writings that the first practical wind vanes appeared in ancient Mesopotamia 3500 to 4000 years ago!
The rain gauge was likely devised in some fashion between the invention of the wind vane and the hygrometer. Ancient Chinese government records during the Chou dynasty show observations were kept of rainfall over 3000 years ago. Similarly around 400 BCE, there are Indian records of rainfall measurements. There are also accounts of rain gauges in use in Korea around 1442 AD.
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