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Reading The Stars – Tacoma Times, September 1st, 1917
|| 1/29/2011 || 7:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Cartoon originally published in the Tacoma Times on September 1st, 1917

Kaiser Wilhelm II, was the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, ruling both the German Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia from June 15th, 1888 to November 18th, 1918. This cartoon obtained from Chronicling America was originally published one year, two months, and seventeen days before the monarchy was abolished.



WAR SIGNS IN THE STARS : Our Country’s Horoscope Says There Will Be Peace – The Washington Times, April 10, 1898
|| 7/26/2010 || 12:34 pm || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

One interesting tangent I’ve gone on lately is traversing Chronicling America for historic astrological predictions to see if they came true or not. I chose this article because it included an “Astrological War Map of the United States” (below) related to the Spanish-American War. On February 15, 1898, less than two months before this article was originally published, the U.S.S. Maine mysteriously blew up in the Havana harbor. Most historians consider it to be the beginning of the hostilities, while many others contend that the U.S.S. Maine blew up on its own and was not the result of Spanish sabotage. Regardless, the ten week “clash of arms” known as the Spanish-American War began less than two weeks after this article was published. Only the final couple paragraphs of the article actually make predictions and reading them over a hundred years later provides an interesting perspective. I’m preferential to the notion that the U.S.S. Maine was probably not the result of Spanish sabotage, but it gave fodder to the American public to support the impending war. By blaming the “enemy” for something that was probably not their fault provides a possible glimpse of America’s governing powers “decidedly bellicose attitude.” Another reading into the prediction was that the author uses “clash of arms” and says that there will be no war. While on it’s face this seems to be an incorrect prediction, however, in the context of historical wars like the Civil War or the 100 Years War, a ten week “war” is closer to a “clash of arms” than a full-scale war like the one that would take place 16 years later. Therefore, I contend that this prediction was somewhat accurate. But I’ll let you decide for yourself.


A War Map of the Stars from the Washington Times, April 10, 1898

WAR SIGNS IN THE STARS

Our Country’s Horoscope Says There Will Be Peace

The oldest of sciences is probably astrology. No other can boast such an illustrious list of names among its believers and exponents. It was the favorite study among the Egyptian priests in the days of Pharaoh and Rameses; we are told that Moses taught and professed it, independently of the gift of prophecy.

Solomon did not consider himself too wise to learn from the astrologers, and David owed his escape from Saul, at the time when the latter was coming to besieger him in Keilal, to their advice. The Magi, or wise men, of the Persians were astrologers, and the remarkable future which the science foretold for the youthful Mohammed (which was fully realized) made it a religious institution among the followers of the prophet of Mecca.

So much for the past of astrology. Most persons, no doubt, believe that is to-day an obsolete science. Such is not the case. There are at present in New York City nearly a dozen astrologers, soothsayers, star readers of horoscope casters, as they variously elect to call themselves. There are others scattered about in various parts of the country, and altogether the profession seems to be in a flourishing and prosperous condition.

It certainly is not without its devotees. The headquarters of the best-known New York astrologer is located in one of the Park row skyscrapers. This seer occupies a suite of offices equipped with desks, typewriters, telephone and all the paraphernalia of the modern business establishment. A procession of clients keeps this astrologer busy all day long.

Astor, for this is the astrologer’s name, does not look like an exponent of ancient occultism. He has a business-like manner and might easily be mistaken for a broker or a lawyer. There is no suggestion of hidden mysteries about his workshop; everything is plain, modern, and commonplace.

The spectacle afforded by the seer dictating the mystic lore of 5000 years ago to a modern graphophone may seem trifle incongruous, but it merely goes to show that astrology, as practiced at the present time, is strictly up to date.

One of the business uses to which his skill is put was shown by the recent city election in Philadelphia. One of the candidates for the City Council was a Mr. Byram. On looking over the ground, after his nomination, Bryam made up his mind that the chances were against his election. He decided to work a new wrinkle. So he called in the services of astrology, and during the remainder of the campaign his actions were under the constant direction of the planets favorable to his cause. Bryam was elected. The politicians of the Quaker city were willing to fight such ordinary evices as jobs, deals and combinations, but when it came to bucking against the stars in their courses they gave up the battle.

With this imposing array of precedents, from Moses of Palestine to Byram of Philadelphia, it is interesting to know what answer astrology gives to the absorbing question of the day: Will there be war between Spain and the United States? This problem was present for consideration of Astor a few days ago.

After carefully studying the existing astrological situation the prophet constructed the accompanying “war map,” which clearly proves to the initiated that, while there is considerable vexatious trouble in store for Spain and the United States, which may lead even to a “clash of arms,” there will be no war.

To those who are not familiar with the symbols of astrology the diagram may seem a trifle obscure, and a word or two of explanation is necessary.

Briefly, the astrologer bases his predictions on the positions which the different planets occupy at a given time in the belt of the Zodiac. Each of the planets indicates a certain tendency which may be favorable or otherwise. Likewise each of the twelve signs of the Zodiac relates to certain subjects. When the relations and influences of the different members of the two groups are known the prediction becomes a comparatively simple matter.

The reckoning is made from the sign Aries, which stands, in the present instance, for the United States. Spain is represented by Gemini, which, in spite of some disturbance, is governed by distinctly peaceful influences. This indicates that Spain, however she may bluster, is really anxious to preserve peace, and will endeavor to do so. The governing powers of the United States on the the other hand, are symbolized by Capricornus, which has at present a decidedly bellicose attitude, with Mars in the ascendant.



The Noyes Armillary Sphere Described In The Historic American Buildngs Survey #532
|| 2/9/2010 || 2:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

National Park Service Photograph of the Noyes Armillary Sphere in Meridian Hill Park in the District of Columbia taken in the 1965

National Park Service Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress

According to page 39 of the Historic American Buildngs Survey #532 published in 1987 [PDF via the Library of Congress]:

The sculpture which contributed most sucessfully to the architectural design [of Meridian Hill Park] was the 6′ high armillary sphere. Money for the construction of the sphere was donated by Bertha Noyes, a well-known Washington artist and founder of the Washington Arts Club, in memory of her father and her sister. Paul Manship had constructed a model for an earlier proposal for an armillary sphere. For lack of funds, that sphere was not realized, later when the Noyes Armillary Sphere was constructed by Carl Paul Jennewein, he based his design on the earlier Manship model. The sphere was located in the exedra on axis with the cascade, south of the reflecting pool. This location was proposed by Ferruccio Vitale, and the foundation was designed by Horace W. Peaslee. Congress approved the location within Meridian Hill Park on June 10, 1932, subject to the final approval of its location within the park by the Commission. The sphere, which was of great interest conceptually as well as visually, was described by historian James Goode as follows:

In spite of its seemingly contemporary design, the armillary sphere is, in face, an ancient astrological instrument. The armillary sphere was frequently used in Europe in the seventeenth century to illustrate the Ptolemaic theory of a central earth; it used metal rings which illustrated the nine spheres of the universe. The usual device, a skeleton of the celestial globe with circles arranged into degrees for angle measurement, represents the great circles of the heavens. The latter includes the horizon, meridian, equator, tropics, and polar circle. The Noyes Armillary Sphere includes a series of bronze rings on which are also found the symbols of the zodiac and the hours, given in Roman numerals. A bronze arrow forms the axis, and, in the center, a small winged genie greets the sun. (James M. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C., The Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974)

The armillary sphere suffered serious damage during the late 1960s and was removed for repair. Its whereabouts is presently unknown. The armillary sphere was worked in bronze, and placed on a green granite pedestal. Other significant park embellishments were wrought in iron. For example, at the north end of the park, a wrought-iron fence is decorated with small armillary spheres, reflecting the significance of the Noyes Armillary Sphere.


This article and photograph was obtained from the Library of Congress and is in the public domain. They are being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to advocate for a replacement armillary sphere in Meridian Hill Park.



Armillary Sphere Donated to ‘Federal City’ by Author; Ancient Astronomical Device Links Early Chinese to Modern Americans – The Washington Post, November 10, 1936
|| 2/7/2010 || 1:37 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

No one knows where the Noyes Armillary Sphere is today. Over the last few years I have personally called the Smithsonian & the National Park Service inquiring about the sculpture’s existence, but all have said it is lost. I genuinely find that difficult to believe because its not a small sculpture, but a rather large one. Some day in the future I would like to see this sculpture replaced and over time I hope to post more photographs and articles about this lost sculpture of Washington, DC.

According to the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System:

The sculpture originally consisted of two equal rings representing the Meridian and Equator, intersecting to form a sphere. Each intersecting ring was divided into areas representing the equinoxes and the Arctic and Antarctic regions. A wide bronze ring was adorned with the signs of the zodiac…. The base of sphere designed by Horace Peaslee, the architect of Meridian Park. The sphere was accepted by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts in 1929, and was purchased with funds donated by Bertha Noyes, founder of the Washington Arts Club, in memory of her sister Edith. The sphere was vandalized during the 1960s and was removed from the park for repair. During this time, the sphere disappeared, with only the small winged figure of a child remaining.


National Park Service Photograph of the Noyes Armillary Sphere in Meridian Hill Park in the District of Columbia taken in the 1930's

National Park Service Photograph Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Armillary Sphere Donated to ‘Federal City’ by Author; Ancient Astronomical Device Links Early Chinese to Modern Americans.


The bronze sphere, 16 feet in circumference, bears the words: “Given to the Federal City, MCMXXXVI, for Edith Noyes.” It is the gift of Bertha Noyes, noted Washington artist, in memory of her sister.

Although the origin of the armillary sphere as an astronomical instrument is shrouded in mystery, its invention is usually credited to China, where it was first in use in approximately 200 B. C.

The Noyes memorial was designed by C. Paul Jennewein, New York sculptor, whose other works in Washington include the statue of a nude with fawn in Judiciary Square which was erected in memory of Joseph James Darlington, a District Supreme Court justice. Its placement in 1922 stirred a heated controversy.

Mounted on a granite pedestal three feet in height, the sphere has the signs of the Zodiac in relief on the outside of the great circle, within which are cleverly contrived the hours of the day marked in Roman numerals. In the center is a winged figure of a child greeting the sun.

At the base is a tablet, also of bronze, which corrects minor variations of the dial at different times of the year. Adjustments were made by a Columbia University astronomer in order that the instrument might be scientifically exact.


This newspaper article was obtained from the Washington Post historical newspaper archives. This article is not in the public domain but is being republished here under the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law in order to advocate for a replacement armillary sphere in Meridian Hill Park.


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What the Stars Tell of The Times – The Washington Times, February 9, 1896
|| 12/1/2009 || 2:21 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The Times Horoscope overlaid on to Dupont Circle Quilt

The Times Horoscope overlaid on to Dupont Circle Quilt

What the Stars Tell of The Times


Horoscope of a Newspaper Cast by an Astrologist


An astrologer has cast the horoscope of The Times and given some practical hints about the ancient science, as follows:

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Harvest Moon in Washington, DC Timelapse Video
|| 9/16/2008 || 11:04 pm || Comments Off on Harvest Moon in Washington, DC Timelapse Video || ||

Harvest Moon in Washington, DC Timelapse Video from Nikolas Schiller on Vimeo.
Click here to view the video on YouTube

This video was recorded this morning using a tripod and a Canon SD750 on 2 second shutter speed. The Harvest moon‘s apparent size & luminosity change as the clouds drift by her slow transit through the night sky of Washington, DC. The music is “The Transit of Venus” by John Phillip Sousa (1893) performed by the Virginia Grand Military Band (2003).


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Gloria Immortalis Labore Parta
|| 9/13/2008 || 11:32 pm || Comments Off on Gloria Immortalis Labore Parta || ||

Immortal glory is brought forth by labor
Undying fame is born of hard work
Labor will be rewarded by eternal glory
immortal glory is the fruit of hard work and anguish

The other day I discovered a cache of digitized rare books at the Le Service Intertablissements de Cooperation Documentaire (SICD) at the Universities of Strasbourg. While skimming through Johannes Kepler‘s Prodromus dissertationum cosmographicarum, continens Mysterium cosmographicum (1622 edition), I found the emblem above on the title page of the Apologia (full page below). After this work, Kepler only published the Rudolphine Tables, which was the most up to date star catalog of the time, and Somnium, which is cited as the first literary work of science fiction.

The original emblem, copied by the publishers of the book (and by me above & below), was originally created by Hadrianus Junius 57 years earlier as EMBLEMA III in his graphic arts book Emblemata (1565). Although he currently only has a Dutch wikipedia entry, I wonder how many other books copied his various emblems?

The paragraph below from Page 86 of The French Book by Henri-Jean Martin, Paul Saenger, Nadine Saenger (1996) gives instructions on how to view this emblem:

We may to try to understand how one “read” such a page by examining as an example an emblem from Emblematum libelus of the Flemish doctor Adrianus Junius, published in 1565 by Christopher Plantin at Antwerp. The title Gloria immortalis labore parta signifies that immortal glory is the fruit of hard work and anguish. The image that expresses this idea makes use of four coded symbols: the continuous coiled snake is viewed as a sign of eternity, the crown of laurel symbolizes glory, and the shovel and terrestrial globe symbolize, respectively, labor and human endeavor. If we look above the terrestrial globe (which represents our daily reality), we notice the shovel excavating it. The snake holding the shovel’s handle in his mouth is encircled by the crown of laurels. Thus, a rhetoric of image identical to the rhetoric of discourse animates the different elements of the emblem, which were placed arbitrarily against a rustic background.

Exciting the mind by their obscurity and polysemantic nature, such illustrations seem to belong to the images employed since antiquity to facilitate memorization and to encourage the creative impulse.

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The Precessional Pentagram of Venus
|| 9/7/2008 || 11:20 pm || Comments Off on The Precessional Pentagram of Venus || ||

Successive inferior conjunctions of Venus occur about 1.6 Earth years apart and
create a pattern of precessing pentagrams, due to a near 13:8 orbital resonance
(the Earth orbits nearly 8 times for every 13 orbits of Venus).

Was reading about Transits of Venus and came across this graphic on Wikipedia. What a beautiful celestial design.


Related Space Entries:

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A New & Somewhat Accurate Map of the Tropic of Gemini and the Tropic of Sagittarius
|| 9/4/2008 || 7:11 pm || Comments Off on A New & Somewhat Accurate Map of the Tropic of Gemini and the Tropic of Sagittarius || ||


For the last month I’ve been working on a slightly strange map above. It’s based on Johannes van Loon’s “Scenographia systematis mvndani Ptolemaici” (1660), which includes an “Axis Zodiaci” that shows the signs of Gemini and Sagittarius being slightly more illuminated than Cancer & Capricorn (see below). This shading possibly indicates that the author was aware of natural movement of the earth since the time of Ptolemy (~125 A.D.).

A new & somewhat accurate map of the Tropic of Sagittarius and the Tropic of Gemini was created using two maps of the Tropics from Wikipedia. I added the glyphs of the Zodiac over the meridians, but unlike the antique map below, I moved the signs backwards. The word “tropic” itself comes from the Greek tropos, meaning turn, referring to the fact that the sun appears to “turn back” at the solstices. I have read that in 1989 the Tropic of Gemini moved into the constellation of Taurus, which technically means it should be the “Tropic of Taurus,” but to keep the circle of animals in exact opposition, I kept the tropic in Gemini, hence “somewhat accurate.”

Close-up detail of A New & Somewhat Accurate Map of the Tropic of Gemini and the Tropic of Sagittarius

For hundreds of years cartographers have included the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer on nearly all globes and world maps. Yet with the natural movement of the earth through space & time, the solstices are not located in the constellations of Capricorn or Cancer anymore. So why do cartographers continue to label the maps & globes using this incorrect information? Does cartographic tradition trump astronomical observation? Should contemporary maps be changed to reflect the passage of time? Are there any antique maps that place the Tropics in any other constellations? Leave your comments below.

Johannes van Loon’s “Scenographia systematis mvndani Ptolemaici” (1660)



Postscript: I believe I was incorrect in my analysis above. I failed to take into account the sideral.


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Tabvla Festorvm – Table of important Catholic dates from Opera Mathematica
|| 8/13/2008 || 6:32 pm || Comments Off on Tabvla Festorvm – Table of important Catholic dates from Opera Mathematica || ||

Page 394 in the Fifth Volume of Chrisopher Clavius’s Opera Mathematica (1612)
Courtesy of the Mathematics Library at the University of Notre Dame

One of the chief architects of the Gregorian Calendar was Jesuit mathematician & astronomer Chrisopher Clavius. In his “Romani calendarii a Gregorio XIII restituti explicatio” (Rome, 1603) he explained the process behind the creation of the Gregorian Calendar. The table above shows the contemporary dates of the Pentecost, Septuagesima, the Paschal Full Moon as well as some other calculations that are hardly used today. Shortly after his death in 1612, this explanation was republished in volume five of Opera Mathematica.

This volume, known as the explanation of the Gregorian Calendar, literally features hundreds upon hundreds of charts like the one above that show the Roman Calendar going thousands of years into the future. Seriously, its truly amazing how far into the future his tables go! If I had some more time to dabble around with his calculations, it would be neat to see how far they are off after nearly 400 years.


Related Calendar Entries:

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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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