Data: Stellar Quadrant Observations – 1/4/19

Last night was a nearly new moon. The temperature was uncommonly warm for this time of year1 but that didn’t end up disturbing the seeing too much as we had an exceptionally good night for observing. Combined with a rich field of stars in Taurus and Orion passing during the evening and Padraig and I had the most productive evening yet cataloging 59 stars, 16 of which were not in my original list of targets, but due to being able to see down to 5th magnitude, we were able to grab them.

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Almagest Book II: Applications of Rising-Time Tables

At this point we’ve spent some considerable time doing the work to develop our rising time tables. Now Ptolemy answers the question: What can we do with them?

Ptolemy provides several algorithms:

Length of a Day

Seasonal Hours (Alternative Method)

Seasonal Hours to Equinoctial Hours


Upper Culmination (Alternative Method)

Rising Point

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Almagest Book II: Calculation of Rising Times at Sphaera Obliqua for 10º Arcs

With the previous theorem about the ascensional differences complete, it’s time to move on to determine how to figure out the rising time of arcs of the ecliptic for 10º segments at various latitudes using what Ptolemy promises to be a shortcut in the math. In the modern sense it really doesn’t seem to be much of a shortcut, but that’s because with the assistance of calculator’s, the equations we were using previously seem much less daunting. If it had to be done by hand, I’m sure it would be far more tedious.

Instead, Ptolemy reduces the number of calculations by going through the proof regarding ascensional differences as well as making use of some previously calculated values to avoid having to do other calculations.

To get started, Ptolemy revises the previous drawing, making it a bit simpler by removing the ecliptic and renaming a few of the points, as well as changing a few definitions.

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Almagest Book II: Ascensional Difference

Not content to simply figure out how long it would take a zodiacal constellation to rise at latitudes other than the equator, Ptolemy sets out to further divide the ecliptic into 10º arcs and he’s promised an easier method than what we’ve done previously. But before we can get there, Ptolemy gives a brief proof which he’ll make use of later.

To start, we begin with the vernal equinox on the horizon:

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Data: Stellar Quadrant Observations – 12/23/18

It’s been almost three months since I’ve been able to get out and observe. It’s been a combination of assistants being sick, bad weather, bad moonphases, and starting a new job. But just before the holiday this year, we had a nice clear night. There was a near full moon, but as Padraig is planning on moving to Boston in the next year, I’m in need of someone else that wants to help. Fortunately, another member of my barony, Auga, has volunteered to assist, so this night was mostly meant to get her trained on how things work and the moon was actually somewhat helpful as it made seeing what we were doing with setup and learning the instrument all the easier.

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Almagest Book II: Calculation of Rising Times at Sphaera Obliqua for Remaining Arcs

In the last post, we explored the rising time for one zodiacal sign which would comprise 30º of the ecliptic. Since the preliminary math is now out of the way, we can quickly do 60º of the ecliptic which constitutes Aries and Taurus. From there, we’ll be able to more quickly compute the remaining constellations as well. Continue reading “Almagest Book II: Calculation of Rising Times at Sphaera Obliqua for Remaining Arcs”

Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica

When construction initially began on my quadrant, I had little to go on except the etching of the instrument and my own knowledge of how such an instrument should work. I knew the image came from a work of Tycho Brahe’s, Astronomiae Instaurate Mechanica (Instruments for the Restoration of Astronomy), but at the time was unable to find a translation to see if there was anything I was missing.

Fortunately, a few months ago, I finally located a translation of the vast majority of the book. However, the website seemed to lack the beautiful etchings that should accompany the text. However, scans of the original work were available through the NASA ADS. Unfortunately, being scans of a book over 400 years old, not all of the images were in good condition.

Still, I have worked to piece the text back together with the images, working over the past few months to digitally clean the images, removing smudges and stains, and reproducing the text as a digital copy best matching the original format as possible.

I now provide it as a .pdf for those interested.