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The Vicissitude of the Seasons Explained
|| 8/7/2008 || 1:59 pm || Comments Off on The Vicissitude of the Seasons Explained || ||

The other day I posted the Analemma featured on Bowles 1780 Map of the World. Today I am posting another ancillary chart from the map that I thought was interesting. It is called the Vicissitude of the Seasons and it explains the nature of the seasons in a given year. Vicissitude means “a state of being changeable or in flux; the rise and decline of a phenomenon,” and the transcribed chart below is the explains how the Earth slowly goes from Summer to Spring. I’ve been thinking a lot about the seasons lately and I have been working on a new map to address their change over time.

In this Diagram S represent the Sun, A XII BXII the Earth as moving round the Sun in the plane of the Ecliptic, according to the Order of the Signs Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc. P is the North Pole, C the Arctic Circle, T the Tropic of Cancer, E the Equator, AXIIB the enlightened half of the Earth, where it is Day. BXIIA the darkened half where it is Night and BCA is the boundary of light & darkness. The Earth’s position with respect to the Sun is here shewn at the beginning of Ecliptic and here tis plain that the Earth moves through the Signs Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, and Pisces (which is from the 21st of March till the 23 of September) the North Pole P is constantly enlightened, and the Northern Places have their days longer than their Nights. But as the Earth proceeds through Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and Virgo (which is from the 23rd of September till the 21st of March, the North Pole is constantly in the Dark and the Northern places have their Nights longer their Days.

Thus, supposing the Circle, L to be parallel of Latitude of London, we perceive that a greater part of it is in the Light than in the Dark from the 21st of March to the 23rd of September and the contrary from the 23rd of September till the 21st of March. On these two days it is just half in the light and half in the dark which shews the Days and Nights to be equally long. On the 21st of June it is most of all in the light, which shews that its days are then at the longest and on the 21st of December it is least of all in the light which shews its days are then at the shortest. The like to be understood of any other place situated in the Northern Hemisphere whilst the reverse happens to those in the Southern. But at each Pole there is only one Day and one Night in the whole Year. N.B. In whatever part of the Ecliptic the Earth is in, as seen from the Sun, the Sun is then the opposite part thereof as seen from the Earth.


I think I might use the graphic on the cover of next year’s calendars. Its very similar to the zodiac in Battista Agnese‘s Portolan atlas from 1544 that I used on last year’s calendars.



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The Use of the Analemma – As explained around 1780
|| 8/1/2008 || 4:54 pm || Comments Off on The Use of the Analemma – As explained around 1780 || ||

A couple months ago I posted the astrophotography of Anthony Ayiomamitis and went into some cursory detail in explaining what an Analemma was. Last night I was perusing the on-line collection of maps in the Library of CongressGeography & Mapping Division and came across Bowles’s new and accurate map of the world, or Terrestrial globe : laid down from the best observations and newest discoveries particularly those lately made in the south seas by Anson, Byron, Wallis, Bouganville, Cook, and other celebrated circumnavigators, illustrated with a variety of useful projections and representations of the heavenly bodies the most approved astronomical and geographical definitions tables, and problems with an easy and familiar explanation of the most curious and interesting phoenomena in the universal system. (yeah thats the official name of the map!)

It was published around 1780 in London for the proprietor Carington Bowles and it features quite a few ancillary maps, including a map of the solar system- both northern & southern hemisphere, astronomical latitude and longitude analemma (below), a chart of the world drawn according to Mercator’s projection, a map of the moon (a selenograph), and a diagram of seasons (which I absolutely love). I expect to reuse portions of this map for upcoming entries because its so laden with unique information. For example, there are drawings on how the planets looked like through the telescope and even the oldest drawings of sunspots that I’ve ever seen.

As for this entry, on the right side of the map are two spheres that were designed to teach the viewer how to understand the Analemma and use it to estimate the location of the Sun, planet, or any fixed star anytime in the past, present, or future. While I still haven’t fully wrapped my mind around the instructions, I have transcribed the text from the map below. There are a few errors and typos but I tried my best to keep the text as close to the original as possible.

By clicking on either of the images you can view a larger version and investigate the text yourself. As a decorative element, I used a portion of the tessellation I used to construct Meridian Hill Park Quilt #4 as the background.

The Use of the Analemma
The Analemma is a very useful (tho’ not commonly used) Projection of the Sphere on a plane. In this Projection the Eye is supposed to view the Sphere or Globe with all its Lines both real and imaginary from a Place so far distant that Mathematicians usually term this Distance in definite, and sometimes infinite.

In this Projection the Meridians and Circles of Declination as they are farther removed from the Centre of the Projection, appear nearer to each other and therefore more confused and on this Account Maps of the Earth and Heavens are generally delineated according to other Principles. Nevertheless there are several Properties belonging to this orthographic Projection, which are superior to all other Projections namely. 1st. In this Projection, the Circles of Latitude on the Earth’s Globe, from the Equator to the Pole, are all of them strait Lines, as are also all those Circles of equal Distance from London or any other Place on the Earth’s Globe all around London or any other Place. 2nd. The Distances of Places in the same Latitude are also measured by strait Lines in this Projection 3rd. The Meridians are Ellipses in this Projection and the Degrees of terrestrial Latitude are here measured on those Ellipses.

In like Manner for the Heavens 1st. The Parallels of the Sun’s and Stars Declination from the Equator, are in this Projection measured by strait Lines, which affords a very easy and elegant Construction of Properties of the celestial Sphere on a Plane. 2nd. The Parallels of Altitude for Sun or Stars at any Place on the Earth’s Globe are here also Strait Lines, Like the Parallels of Declination. 3rd. The Celestial Meridians, and the great Circles extending from the Zenith to the Nadir, in this Projection are Ellipses. 4th The Sun’s Declination North or South being but 23 1/2 degrees and the Degrees being in this Projection so near to an Equality from the Centre to the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, several of the most entertaining and useful Particulars relating to the Doctrine of the Sphere & Astronomy are more easily & elegantly solved by this Construction than any other.

From all which it follows that the Analemma or orthographical projection of the Sphere on a Plane is what everyone should understand who would not be at the expense of those expensive Instruments, Spheres, Globes etc., nor be at Pains and Attention enough to learn Mathematics and the necessary calculation.

On these Accounts we have given on the opposite side of this Map a Delineation which will be abundantly useful in the Application of the Analemma. And for a further Illustration of the Projection, Read what follows.

At the upper Part of this Map we have given a Table of the Sun’s Declination for the Beginning, Middle, and End of every Month throughout the Year, and which will be true till the Year 1808, by which Table and a single Proportion of Allowance for the Increase or Decrease of Declination, the true Declination for any Day may be easily found, also above we have given Geographical & Astronomical Definitions from which the Names of the several and respective Lines of the Earth and Heavens may be known.

Now supposing you would know the Hour of Sun Rising or Sun Setting or the Hours and Minutes of Time any Star, Planet, or the Moon is above the Horizon from the Rising to the Setting by the Analemma you first know the Latitude of that Place of the Earth where the Answer is required for. Secondly you must know the Declination of the Phenomenon whether it be Sun, Moon, or Star, and by these you may find the Time of Duration above the Horizon thus Count the Degrees of Latitude from the Equator of the Analemma downwards towards its Pole and a Strait piece of Paper of Line laid from thence to the Centre will cut the Line of Declination and the elliptical Meridians Equal to the Length of the Half Day more than Six Hours when the Place and Declination are both alike that is both North or both South but less than Six Hours, when the Place of Declination are both unlike that is one North and the Other South and this assensional Difference being either added to or subtracted from Six Hours gives the Length of the Half Day, and consequently the Time of Rising or Setting of the Sun.

The like is also to be understood of the Rising and setting of the Moon, Planets, or Fixed Stars, with this Difference, that in these you mist know if the Moon, Planet, or Stars rise sooner or Later than the Sun, which you may known whither such Star as you enquire about doth by the above Hemispheres, but for the Moon and Planets you may have Recourse to an Ephemeris Another very curious and useful Problem in the Doctrine of the Sphere is solveable after the most easy and elegant Manner by the Analemma relative to the Crepusculum or Twilight its Beginning & Ending in any Place of the Earth & at any Time of the Year it is as follows Viz.Count as before mentioned from the Equator of the Analemma to the Latitude & draw a real or imaginary Line thro’ the Centre to the opposite Side of the Analemma, then in the Circumference of y3 Analemma count 18 Degrees on each side downward & where the Parallel of the Sun or Stars Declination cuts this Strait Line the Number of elliptic Meridians from the Centre shews the Ascensional Difference.

N.B. The Equator of the Analemma is the Line 180 to 180 thro’ the Centre.

In this Analemma the Place in the Ecliptic or Distance from the next Equinoctial Point being known (which the adjacent Table will shew) the Declination and Right Ascension of the Sun are known by Inspection and for the Moon or Planets which have Latitude if such Latitude be reckoned from the Ecliptic towards the Ecliptic’s Pole the Declination & Right Ascension answering to such Latitude will be known by Inspection in the Analemma the Use of which will appear to such as know a little of the Sphere.

As the Fixed Stars are carried forward according to the Order of the Signs 50 Seconds per Year this Analemma will readily shew the Place of any Fixed Star for any Time past present or to come if its present Place be known & Contra.




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The Millbank Penitentiary, the Tate Britain, and the Panopticon
|| 6/26/2008 || 4:20 pm || Comments Off on The Millbank Penitentiary, the Tate Britain, and the Panopticon || ||

Detail of Smiths New Map of London (1860)
Courtesy of the Library of Congress Geography & Mapping Division


The other night I was browsing the antique maps on the in American Memory Collection map stumbled upon Smith’s New Map of London (1860). As I was looking at 19th century London, I came across the geometrically shaped building that look surprisingly like some of the mashed-up buildings in my maps (see map detail above).

The building was known as the Millbank Penitentiary and was designed by William Williams in 1812 in accordance with the utilitarian principles laid down by Jeremy Bentham‘s Panopticon prison design. This radial design would allow the guards to monitor all the prisoners at all times, without any prisoner being aware of whether he/she was being monitored or not. Akin to today’s closed circuit television cameras, the Panopticon design is still used today in many prisons around the world.

Peter McRorie Higgins describes the Millbank Penitentiary extensively in The Scurvy Scandal at Millbank Penitentiary: A Reassessment:

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Tabvla Temporis [Semidiurni in fignis Borealibus / Australibus]
|| 5/25/2008 || 12:17 am || Comments Off on Tabvla Temporis [Semidiurni in fignis Borealibus / Australibus] || ||

This is the reverse side of Willem Janszoon Blaeu’s Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula (Amsterdam 1606) which I used in my recent creation A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum. If you look closely, you can see the reverse of original map that bled through the paper after couple hundred years and some image manipulation. The table shown is similar to an Ephemeris, which is table of values that gives the positions of astronomical objects in the sky at a given time. I would love for someone to sit and explain the way one goes about reading these types of antique charts. I understand a fair amount of what is being shown, but I do not fully grasp how to apply the calculations.



A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
|| 5/23/2008 || 10:43 am || Comments Off on A New & Arabesque Map of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden || ||


:: saved at 6,480 x 5,040 ::

To celebrate the new procedure I decided to get around to editing the Library of Congress‘ copy of Willem Janszoon Blaeu‘s Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, which was published in Amsterdam in 1606. I removed the original map from the center and kept the decorative border similar to Nova et Accvratissima Totivs Terrarvm Orbis Tabvla, A New Map of the Terraqueous Globe : according to the the Ancient discoveries and most general Divisions of Geospatial Art, America as a Cloverleaf, and A New And Accurate Map of the World by John Speed. However, unlike the previous antique map mash-ups, which usually feature the earth laid out in two hemispheres, this map uses a rectangular space (Mercator?). The beauty of this open layout is that I can place any of my previously made maps inside of this 402-year-old template.

A common naming practice I’ve noticed in old map is the use of “New & Accurate” and since I like to play around with words, I changed Accurate to Arabesque to create a visual pun. The source map was about 6,500 pixels wide, I underlaid a rotated 9,000 x 6,000 copy of Hirshhorn Quilt to fit perfectly in the center of the new map. I think it would be fun to actually hand-color the engravings on this map to match other copies of this map which have the various figures colored in. The LOC’s copy is uncolored which means that its actually easier to add color to it than if it were already colored because pigment matching is not needed.



: detail of the planet Goddess Venus :

Across the top (left to right) you have the planet gods:

Drawn within each of these engravings are the signs of the Zodiac that the planets rule:

Below I dissect the rest of the border of the map:

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Then & Now Birds-Eye Views of the Westminster Neighborhood in Washington, DC [1884 & 2005]
|| 4/14/2008 || 12:42 pm || Comments Off on Then & Now Birds-Eye Views of the Westminster Neighborhood in Washington, DC [1884 & 2005] || ||

Detail the bicycle track before Westminster Street was created
from Adolph Sachse’s birds-eye view of the nation’s capital, 1884

Due to file format issues, only recently have I been able to open most of the maps available in the Library of Congress’ American Memory Collection. Last night I found an interesting birds-eye view map of Washington, DC by Adolph Sachse that was published in 1884. Its a massive map that appears to be composed of six separate sheets and contains a listing of many of the businesses in Washington City as well as locations of various public & government buildings. In many ways the map acts like a geovisual address book (the phone had not been invented yet) because, at a glance, one can easily find services offered by local merchants. Judging by the branding in the upper right hand corner of the original map, it appears that the map was sponsored by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company, a major railroad company of the day.

According to my neighborhood’s official history, Westminster Street did not exist in 1884 and the birds-eye view above supports this claim. While not labeled in the image above, Parcel 362, as it was known on the original DC maps, was called also called “the old circus ground” and Athletic Park. It had a 150-foot long grand stand along T Street, which was built in 1883 (building permit number 1047) in preparation for the fifth national convention of the League of American Wheelmen, a national organization of bicyclists. The first American bicyclist to ever ride 100 miles on an outdoor track did it on that track in 1884. As someone who uses a bicycle as their primary means of urban transportation, I can only smile knowing that 121 years ago my residence was an outdoor bicycle race track. However, I laugh because I traveled with an exgirlfriend’s family circus when I was younger!

Below is a birds-eye view of the Westminster Neighborhood published by Microsoft, with imagery of Pictometry International. It features imagery that was taken in 2005 and when compared, you can see how much the area has changed in the last 121 years. The Athetic Park is gone and in it’s place are dozens of rowhouses that were built shortly after the map above was published. A unique and historically aware addition to the neighborhood is something you can see below in the playground on Westminster Street. No, it’s not because that is where I had my exhibit “North, South, East, Westminster“. Rather, if you look closely, you can see a small race track! A scaled reminder of what once was.

Detail of the Westminster Neighborhood by Microsoft, with imagery of Pictometry International



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Oil Wells in Los Angeles 103 years ago [One Slick Overlay]
|| 1/6/2008 || 2:09 pm || Comments Off on Oil Wells in Los Angeles 103 years ago [One Slick Overlay] || ||

Links to 2.5mb KMZ file for Google Earth
Were the fingerprints dipped in oil too?

The other day I was hunting for maps of Baltimore and stumbled on to the map above (published in Baltimore). It was last prominently featured in the Library of Congress’ “Los Angeles Mapped” on-line exhibition. The map shows downtown Los Angeles with little black dots showing the locations of all the oil wells that existed in 1905.

I wonder how many of the old oil derricks still exist today? I also wonder if people living where the oil wells were constructed own the mineral rights for their property? A few years back I remember looking into purchasing cheap land in Wyoming and one of the stipulations on the land was that the owner would not own the mineral rights below the surface of the earth. Does this exist in present day Los Angeles? Could someone living in Los Angeles today dig a little deeper and find a new source of oil in their backyard?

For more information about this antique map, visit the Library of Congress website. Below is a secondary screen grab showing the area around Dodgers Stadium. It should be noted that the overlay does line up 100% on Google Earth, but close enough to show a change in the built environment.

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Within Sight of the White House [Overlay of Hooker’s Division]
|| 12/9/2007 || 2:30 am || 1 Comment Rendered || ||

[image links to .kmz file]
Google Earth Screen Shot of the Antique Overlay

One of the maps I recently downloaded was from a newspaper clipping showing the area near the White House. With 50 Saloons and 109 Bawdy-Houses the map was drawn to highlight business owners who were paying Federal taxes but not DC taxes. Of importance is how nearly all but four of the business owners were female. Were they not paying taxes because they were disenfranchised? Women’s suffrage didn’t come for another 30 years with the passage of the 19th Amendment. By taking the map and importing it into Google Earth, I was able to arrange it so that the buildings line up with minimal distortion. It’s not a perfect map, but it is truly an interesting glimpse into downtown Washington, DC in the 1890’s.

Today most of the buildings are all gone. There are some exceptions, like City Hall (Central Powerhouse) and the Old Post Office, which is written as the “New Post Office” on the map. In the place of the 109 Bawdy-Houses and 50 Saloons was the creation of Federal Triangle. Ohio Ave- gone, DC’s entertainment center, gone as well. Later built, on the year of my birth, was Freedom Plaza which was designed to look like L’Enfant’s map no less. By adjusting the antique map’s transparency you can see a approximately 117 years of development. From brothel to federal, what a strange entity time is.

Transcription:

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(Mecca) is now Makkah
|| 11/28/2007 || 10:27 pm || Comments Off on (Mecca) is now Makkah || ||

On August 12th, 2007 I took this screenshot for my blog entry related to the Astro-theological overlays for Google Earth. The project overlaid the zodiac on locations of religious importance: Vatican City, Mecca, and Jerusalem.

Today I discovered that that the names for the locations have changed in Google Earth.

note: the Kaaba is in the lower right-hand corner

My entire life I have always spelled it the city as Mecca. I wonder when this was changed? Should I change my spellings? Some day I would like to visit the holy city of Makkah :-)


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1880 Street Railway Map of the City of Washington
|| 9/14/2007 || 4:28 pm || Comments Off on 1880 Street Railway Map of the City of Washington || ||

Using map #10 from 1880 Statistical Map of the City of Washington, I was able to make this unique, interactive, antique map mashup.

View the Google Maplet

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  • thank you,
    come again!