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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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Happy Nowruz !!
|| 3/20/2008 || 3:25 pm || Comments Off on Happy Nowruz !! || ||

Last night I celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year, with some of my close friends for the second year in a row. Like the ancient peoples written in our history books, I am a fan of all celebrations that bring people together, and Nowruz has been bringing people together for over 15,000 years– making it one of mankind’s oldest celebrations.

The previous year I was given the sabzeh, or green wheat sprouts in a small dish, which represents rebirth. This year I saw my first traditional Haft-Seen display (pictured). Each element in the display has a specific meaning for the next year.

Via Wikipedia, some of the Haft-Seen items are:


* sabzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
* samanu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
* senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing love
* sÄ«r – garlic – symbolizing medicine
* sÄ«b – apples – symbolizing beauty and health
* somaq – sumac berries – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
* serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing age and patience

Other items on the table may include:

* Sonbol – Hyacinth (flower)
* Sekkeh – Coins – representative of wealth
* traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi
* dried nuts, berries and raisins (Aajeel)
* lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
* a mirror (symbolizing cleanness and honesty)
* decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
* a bowl of water with goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
* a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
* rosewater, believed to have magical cleansing powers
* the national colours, for a patriotic touch
* a holy book (e.g., the Qur’an, Avesta, Bible, Torah, or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnama or the Divan of Hafez)

We stayed up to 1:48am to celebrate start of year 1387 (Anno Persico) and shortly after the new day began I poured rose water on my hands, rubbed it on my face, and looked into a small mirror. I am told its a ceremonial way of putting the year behind you— and what a great year 1386 was for me! I expect 1387 to be filled with intrigue, excitement, and fun.


I’d like to take a brief moment to expound on how amazing the Persian Calendar is. Technically, it is one of the few astronomical solar calendars that are still used today. Interestingly, it is more precise than the Gregorian calendars that have been in used in Europe (and America) since 1582. Each month is not based on the arbitrary division of months as we have today, rather each month was determined by the transit of the sun into the corresponding zodiac region.

By 1079 (C.E.), the Jalali Calendar, a precursor to the modern Persian Calendar, had the solar year calculated to seven decimal places (365.2421986) and in today’s Gregorian Calendar the days in a year is calculated to only six decimal places (365.242190). Also, since the astronomical observations and predictions used in Jalali Calendar were based on a yearly review of the astronomical ephemeris, the calendar never required a leap years nor were seasons ever off by more than a day. All in all, I am very impressed with their calendar and how its changed over the years to include other cultural influences.

Last year’s research on the zodiac found in Battista Agnese’s portolan from 1544 shows that even as far back as 400+ years ago New Years was celebrated in the spring. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at this zodiac and found one important indicator of New Years.

There is only one point on the double concentric circle where there is a line that bisects both the astrological calendar and the Gregorian calendar. This line falls around March 10th (see below), however I have been unable to find out why that specific date was chosen for this specific calendar. I am still trying to reconcile this anomaly, but hope to have a definitive answer sometime in the not-so-distant future.



2008 California Calendar
|| 11/15/2007 || 9:41 pm || Comments Off on 2008 California Calendar || ||

April 2008_____

As of January 1st, the calendar is no longer available for sale on-line. A big thank you to those who purchased copies!

A viewable copy of the calendar is in the permanent holdings of the Map and Imagery Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

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Tycho Brahe’s Armillary Spheres
|| 10/8/2007 || 2:41 pm || Comments Off on Tycho Brahe’s Armillary Spheres || ||


from www.tychobrahe.com

So following up on yesterday’s entry about the armillary sphere on the Vatican News Services website. Today I read about the armillary spheres used by Tycho Brahe and was honestly quite stunned. He had 4 different armillary spheres! Above is my favorite, the Great Equatorial Armillary Sphere, which looks quite a bit like the hexagon quilt projection.

Check out the others:

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Holy See an Armillary Sphere?
|| 10/7/2007 || 1:00 pm || Comments Off on Holy See an Armillary Sphere? || ||

Screen grab from the website of the Vatican showing an Armillary Sphere in the background

Looks like there is an Armillary Sphere in the background. I find this interesting simply because an Armillary Sphere most likely has a pagan Zodiac on it. Two months ago I made those Astro-theological overlays (which included the Vatican) and today I stumbled on to a slightly hidden one on the Holy See’s News Services webpage.

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Found Celestial Cartography
|| 10/3/2007 || 12:50 pm || Comments Off on Found Celestial Cartography || ||

As I mentioned before, lately I’ve been dabbling in the confluence of astrology & astromony. Last night when I was playing with the Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth, I discovered that when I switched to sky mode I am presented with an interactive star atlas that juxtaposes the antique Zodiac with the constellations it’s named after. Granted the constellations *do not* line up correctly on the Zodiac, its a really interesting experience that deserves more work. Can the zodiac wrap around the envrionment if done correctly? If you have Google Earth installed on your computer, click on the image above to check it out! Please remix.

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An updated Armillary Sphere
|| 9/28/2007 || 8:54 pm || Comments Off on An updated Armillary Sphere || ||

Above is an Armillary Sphere, which was used in ancient times as a celestial calendar. Created prior to the orrey, which is a helio-centric model, the Armillary Sphere allowed it’s user to know where the moon was in relation to the earth. It also featured a zodiac, which I’ve been playing with earlier this year.

To make the above image, I edited the public domain engraving on the Wikipedia page and added a very tiny NASA Blue Marble satellite image of the western hemisphere of the earth. I am probably going to add this image to this website’s splash page, which will knock the total number of visual combinations to over 3,000! I’d like to make a few more first. The U.S. Naval Observatory’s logo gave me some ideas :-).

Since May I’ve been very interested in old maps and the scientific instruments that were used. When I discovered Julius Schiller, who published Coelum Stellatum Christianum (which replaced pagan constellations with biblical and early Christian figures), I began to take quite an interest in celestial cartography.

Around that same time my next door neighbor, thinking that my cartographic expertise had to do with astronomy, offered to let me borrow his children’s telescope. Since then (about mid-August) I’ve been looking to the night sky about once a week; much to my enjoyment. Last week was a highlight because we met on the rooftop and set up the telescope. I showed him and his kids how to use the telescope and was able to show them the moon for the first time. DC has quite a bit of light pollution which makes celestial observances quite tough. The neighborhood watch was even in effect because my housemate said people from the street over knocked on our door warning her about people on the roof.

My favorite night sites are Venus and the Moon, simply because they are the easiest to find. I really want to see Mars, Saturn, or Jupiter. But I’ll just have to wait until the night’s right (or I have ample patience). Ironically, a week after my neighbor brought over the telescope, the new version of Google Earth came out with an integrated celestial viewer.

I have more to write about my nightly observations and research I’ve been dabbling in at a later date.

Related Antique Entries:

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The Astro-Theological Overlays for Google Earth
|| 8/12/2007 || 12:14 pm || Comments Off on The Astro-Theological Overlays for Google Earth || ||

Click on the image below to download the .kmz file [888 Kb] for Google Earth:

Instead of just wrapping the Astrological Calendar from 1544 around the earth, today I decided to place the calendar alongside the 3 holy locations of Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. This geographic juxtaposition of pagan symbolism with established religion makes this series of overlays one of the more interesting cartographic creations I’ve ever made.

Continue reading:

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An Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth
|| 8/11/2007 || 11:49 pm || Comments Off on An Interactive Astrological Calendar from 1544 for Google Earth || ||

Right click on the image below to download the .kmz file [3 mb] for Google Earth:

The other day when I was developing the Eastern Hemisphere version, I thought it would be neat to see what the calendar would look like in Google Earth. By using the image overlay function I was able to wrap the entire calendar over the surface of the earth. The result is a very unique way to interactively view the calendar in 3D.

Continue reading:

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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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