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"The first image I made was purely for beauty..." photographing the analemma
September 19, 2011 8:15 PM   Subscribe

"As noted elsewhere, more men have walked on the moon than have successfully photographed the analemma." (details)

- More astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis
- A Historical Explanation of the Analemma
- The first successful photograph of the analemma
- An explanation about why our analemma looks like a figure 8
- An indoor analemma by a co-founder of The North American Sundial Society
- Obligatory APOD & bonus APOD
- previously

note: number of analemma photographs has approximately doubled since 2003 but is still quite small
posted by jessamyn (51 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite

 
I give this post an "8"
posted by not_on_display at 8:16 PM on September 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I give this post an "8"

Yeah? Well I give it a ∞.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:22 PM on September 19, 2011 [13 favorites]


FYI, 12 men have walked on the moon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 PM on September 19, 2011


I bet cloudy days would frustrate most attempts, even digitally. Doing it as multiple exposures on the same piece of film? How do you keep a camera mounted on a tripod in the same spot for an entire year? It does sound nigh impossible. I can see myself kicking the tripod over on month 8. (I guess you'd bolt it down in a window, but still)
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:27 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Related: extremely long exposures (6 months!) show the sun's daily track in the same frame.
posted by knave at 8:28 PM on September 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


what the

spooky!
posted by rhizome at 8:30 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Alternate title: sky drumstick vacations in Greece.
posted by dr_dank at 8:31 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm often struck by the speed of the change in daylight in fall & spring. Looking at the dates on the indoor analemma diagram, it's clear that I'm not just imagining it.
posted by richyoung at 8:31 PM on September 19, 2011


FYI, 12 men have walked on the moon.

10, SHEEPLE
posted by nathancaswell at 8:35 PM on September 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, this analemma. It's like the clitoris, then?
posted by clvrmnky at 8:36 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


"As noted elsewhere, more men have walked on the moon than have successfully photographed the analemma."

"So, this analemma. It's like the clitoris, then?"

I think you must be using a different internet from me.
posted by joannemullen at 8:42 PM on September 19, 2011 [17 favorites]


I guess you could say that anyone attempting the feat is on the horns of an analemma.

Sorry. Anyway, in recent years, I've seen something (don't recall where) where someone made a pinhole camera (with a beercan for somesuch) and recorded the passage of the sun across the whole sky for months (exact period uncertain) on a single piece of film. That's a pretty tricky bit as well.

Actually the task's getting easier and easier (surplus of low-power digital cameras and inexpensive DIY control circuitry) and might make a great competition of some sort. REALLY impressive would be doing the same thing with a single bright star. Ain't seen one of those yet.
posted by Twang at 8:47 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


As noted elsewhere, walking on the moon has a 10,000,000 % higher chance of getting you laid / invited to parties / a free lunch.
posted by ShutterBun at 8:48 PM on September 19, 2011


10, SHEEPLE

It's 12. (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17). 6 missions, 2 men each.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 PM on September 19, 2011


As a kid, we had a globe that had a terse explanation of the analemma in a spot the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I didn't understand it, but I noticed that it said it was the "EQUATION OF TIME." I thought that meant something deeper than it did and was really unnerved.

Does anyone know why they just slap that onto globes? Pacific Ocean's too boring?
posted by ignignokt at 8:50 PM on September 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


In this photograph the shadows are roughly orthogonal to the line between the camera and the sun. Why is that?
posted by Tube at 8:50 PM on September 19, 2011


I've loved analemmas ever sense reading Anathem.
posted by rebent at 8:52 PM on September 19, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think the foreground must a single static shot layered over the analemma exposures.
posted by gubo at 8:52 PM on September 19, 2011


A composited photograph could explain the position of the shadows, but isn't that sort of "cheating?"
posted by Tube at 8:58 PM on September 19, 2011


gubo: I had the same thought
posted by rebent at 8:59 PM on September 19, 2011


For knave: even longer exposures, as long as 34 months.

I searched online but was unable to relocate one of my favorite solar photography art projects. Some guy built big cameras to take extremely long exposure photos of the sun directly on printing-out paper. The sunlight was so strong it reversed the image, and actually burned streaks through the paper under the path of the sun. The smoke of the burning paper made beautiful discolorations and blurred the image wonderfully.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:05 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


For reference, the cover of Anathem features an analemma cause of overarching plot.
posted by The Whelk at 9:09 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the foreground must a single static shot layered over the analemma exposures.

In fact, that's what the detailed descriptions say. 38 multiple exposures plus 1 foreground exposure.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:12 PM on September 19, 2011


I first became aware of analemmas when I took this photo in Dodge City KS in 2007. Someone just favorited the photo recently and I was thinking "Oh yeah I meant to make a post about that"
posted by jessamyn at 9:32 PM on September 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Anna Lemma will be my next pseudonym.
posted by The otter lady at 9:46 PM on September 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's 12. (Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17). 6 missions, 2 men each.

But the first was faked on a sound stage, hadn't you heard?
posted by kenko at 9:55 PM on September 19, 2011


So, Greece is useful after all!

(these are lovely pictures)
posted by chavenet at 10:50 PM on September 19, 2011


But the first was faked on a sound stage, hadn't you heard?

Pfft. If you were in this deep salt mine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan doing experiments in 1954 you would know that we didn't fly there and just delayed to mess with the Soviets.

SPAAAAACE
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:02 AM on September 20, 2011


charlie don't surf - are you thinking of the chris mccaw sunburn photos?
posted by lapolla at 12:04 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anna Lemma will be my next pseudonym.

Well, it's either that or Anal Emma.
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:22 AM on September 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Charlie don't surf: perhaps you're thinking of Justin Quinnell?
posted by dowcrag at 12:53 AM on September 20, 2011


I'm not ashamed to admit that I did not understand the significance of the analemma in 'Anathem'.
posted by runcibleshaw at 1:05 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are no salt mines in the UP... the salt mines are under Detroit...
posted by tomswift at 2:31 AM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whew. I first read this as "More men have walked on the moon than have successfully photographed the enema."

I was sorely (no pun intended) confused, to say the least.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:38 AM on September 20, 2011


Whew. I first read this as "More men have walked on the moon than have successfully photographed the enema.

I'm guessing the "anal" part didn't help much, either.

But, since we're on the subject of anal photography, I wonder if it would be OK for me to leave this here.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:49 AM on September 20, 2011


I keep thinking my fras and I should totally do this some time, but what with all the bell-ringing and weed-pulling, we just haven't gotten around to it.
posted by DU at 4:45 AM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


bell-ringing and weed-pulling

Best. Euphemisms. EVAR.
posted by eriko at 6:15 AM on September 20, 2011


"Well, we all need a hobby. No, I- I- I don't mean to belittle your collection. I get it. It sounds cool."
"I'd be the seventh person to do it. More people have walked on the moon."
posted by stebulus at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2011


My dad did a year long time lapse of the building of the Seattle World's Fair for a 16mm documentary back in the early 1960s. Not the same thing, but he said they were pretty nervous waiting for the film to come back from the lab. It turned out OK.
posted by warbaby at 6:50 AM on September 20, 2011


..are you thinking of the chris mccaw sunburn photos?

Yesss! I knew somebody would remember those pics. Photos like this and this just stunned me.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:44 AM on September 20, 2011


It would be pretty cool if some astrophotography genius did a mash up of the 6 month sun track exposure and an analemma. It would how every path the sun took, and where at was on that path at the time you chose for the analemma exposures.
posted by cirrostratus at 7:52 AM on September 20, 2011


When my house was new and had little furniture, I hung a washer in the almost-exactly-south-facing window and marked off the spot of light cast on the floor at noon (or 1pm in summer) each week with a thumbtack. It was very cool.
posted by Hobgoblin at 7:56 AM on September 20, 2011


I'm not ashamed to admit that I did not understand the significance of the analemma in 'Anathem'.

Same here. Was it something to do with the observation of the movement of the entity in the sky over the period of several months though? I seem to recall that was the clue that led them to note that the entity was not a star.
posted by odinsdream at 9:11 AM on September 20, 2011


I thought it was the clue that it was stationary and thus, man-made, or something? It's been a while.
posted by The Whelk at 11:27 AM on September 20, 2011


I'm often struck by the speed of the change in daylight in fall & spring. Looking at the dates on the indoor analemma diagram, it's clear that I'm not just imagining it.

Yeah, that boggles my mind, too. You don't really seem to notice it when you're young, but as you get older and the days start flying by it's a lot more noticeable.

For my location after summer Solstice we're losing about 5 minutes of daylight per day. That number varies based on your location, obviously.

Seattle the farthest north I've ever lived, and I've basically never lived anywhere that has true seasons like Seattle has. This year our summer was a bit on the cool side - a whole 8 or 9 days over 80 degrees, wee! - but the noticeable transition from summer to fall was literally 1 day. The previous day it still felt like summer, the next there's a noticeable chill and crispness to the air.

So, what's even more mind-boggling is that this is happening all the time.

There's no point where the sun isn't changing position in the sky. Our brains seem to like to forget that fact out of convenience for the sake of simplification, but right now the sun is overhead and planet Earth is rapidly spinning along its orbit and the angle of the sun is indeed currently constantly, slowly changing.

If you go out on a clear dark night away from the city lights and lay down on the good ground and while growing still and quiet over hours as you look up at the night sky - you can see and sometimes even feel all this constant movement and change happening all around you with each breath. The spin of the planet with our companion the Moon spinning around us, the 10,000 year long precessional wobble, the immense amount of speed as we slide in our orbit around the sun, the crawling, inexorable speed of our solar system whirling along with billions of other stars in our galaxy, and our galaxy wobbling along with the other galaxies in our supercluster. (Meanwhile, the atoms that are you and all the matter around you including the ground is also spinning and wobbling and never still...)

It's enough to make you absolutely dizzy and giddy. Perhaps even a bit mad.

If you find yourself clutching instinctively at the ground and digging your hands into that good Earth because you feel like you're going to fall right off the planet into that yawning, ceaselessly whirling space that's not just above you, but all around you - you're doing it right.
posted by loquacious at 11:30 AM on September 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


If you find yourself clutching instinctively at the ground and digging your hands into that good Earth because you feel like you're going to fall right off the planet

Yep, I had that particular moment of enlightenment lying on my back in a field, looking up a the stars, when I was about 15. Realizing suddenly that the entire earth was behind me and that nothing was between me and the rest of the universe except the thin atmosphere caused me to grab on to the grass, just in case.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:05 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah? Well I give it a ∞.
posted by Tomorrowful


I think you may really be onto something with this, Tomorrowful.

John Wallis first introduced the '∞' symbol in 1655.

The use of a modern analemma on a dial dates to around 1640, and the first treatment in English was by Samuel Foster in 1654.

Both Wallis and Foster were students of an important inventor and author in the field of sundials (and a pioneer in the use of symbols in mathematics), William Oughtred.
posted by jamjam at 12:10 PM on September 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


But the first was faked on a sound stage, hadn't you heard?

Actually due to the challenges of filming on the moon, the first landing was, in fact, faked. But they didn't use a sound-stage, because it would be too obvious that it wasn't real. In the end it was just much easier to film the whole thing on Mars since we were already there fighting the in the 3rd Nazi-Cthulhu conflict of the late '60s/ Fourth Alignment (depending on which time scale you prefer.)

They generally just over saturated the black and white film and removed all evidence of the Martian architecture as well as the sky whales and the floating refineries. I think the end results look pretty plausible.

These analemma are really neat, and I'm kinda thinking it'd be cool to shoot for being #8...
posted by quin at 1:52 PM on September 20, 2011


My first thought when reading the post was that this must be due to the analemma being only photographed from the moon. But with a nifty marketing ploy, I'm guessing that now everyone will be taking these pictures. I'm sure at some point there were fewer people who photographed planking than walked on the moon, but now look what's happened.

I did like the Greek ruins, nice touch. Almost enough to cover up the fact that these photographs weren't taken over the course of a full year.

Feb 02/02 - Dec 01/02
Jan 07/03 - Dec 20/03
Jan 07/03 - Dec 20/03
Mar 30/03 - Mar 24/04
Mar 30/03 - Mar 24/04
Jan 12/02 - Dec 21/02
Jan 06/04 - Dec 20/04
Jan 06/04 - Dec 20/04
Jan 07/03 - Dec 20/03
Jan 07/03 - Dec 20/03
Jan 22/11 - Nov 02/11
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:05 PM on September 20, 2011


I did like the Greek ruins, nice touch. Almost enough to cover up the fact that these photographs weren't taken over the course of a full year.

Feb 02/02 - Dec 01/02 . . .


Plus points for persnicketiness, but if you think it through you would realize that if you actually did take them over the course of a "full year" then the position of the sun would be exactly the same on the last day as on the first (or at least it would if you did over the course of exactly one solar year, but a calendar year is going to be plenty close enough to that for photographic purposes).

So unless you want to wait for that final photograph just to get another one with the sun in the same exact spot as you started, there is little point in taking the final one. So it's always going to be a week or two shy of a full year to capture a full analemma.

As for the first one you mention, Feb 02/02 - Dec 01/02, that is shy by more than a week or two, but you'll notice the sun was behind a mountain during that period. I guess he should have taken repeated shots of the mountain with no sun just to help persnickety people?
posted by flug at 10:49 AM on September 21, 2011


Check out this (simulated) analemma on Mars.
posted by jamjam at 8:54 PM on September 21, 2011


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