Make your own astronomical calendar
February 7, 2011 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Several months ago, Bill Rankin of Radical Cartography (previously and previouslier) created an astronomical calendar of events for New Haven, Connecticut, where he lives, featuring all of the inexorable rhythms of the Solar System in one handy PNG file. Now you can create such a calendar for any location on the planet, with information as basic as the hours of daylight or as esoteric as the tilt of Saturn's rings, all lovingly rendered in soothing translucent pastels.

Radical Cartography has also added some other geographical delights, like this rendering of the US-Canadian street discontinuity and an interesting topological analysis of Venice's streets.
posted by theodolite (18 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful stuff - thanks for posting this.
posted by jquinby at 10:07 AM on February 7, 2011

posted by fuq at 10:24 AM on February 7, 2011

Neat. What are the discontinuities in the generated graphs?
posted by nzero at 10:30 AM on February 7, 2011

My guess is Daylight Savings Time (or the local equivalent thereof) switching on and off. It would be nice to see each equilux on there, too. Neat work.
posted by adipocere at 10:36 AM on February 7, 2011

Wonderful. Thanks.
posted by aught at 10:36 AM on February 7, 2011

This is really cool, although I wish there was a way to link to my custom map.
posted by me3dia at 10:49 AM on February 7, 2011

Somewhere, Edward Tufte is smiling.

But somebody teach them how to use antialiasing, and find a way to programatically insert labels like he did on his original graph. Also, the lunch/dinnertime bars were cute and actually kind of useful.
posted by schmod at 10:50 AM on February 7, 2011

"This script was hand-built using pyephem." Could Python get any cooler?
posted by richyoung at 10:51 AM on February 7, 2011

The more I look at this the less I understand it. Why aren't all the axes labeled? For instance, on the "highest altitude" graph, there's no y axis. And there are two curves, one of which is labeled as being the sun...but what's the other? Oh, I guess the moon.

Somewhere, Edward Tufte is commenting on beauty vs information conveyance.
posted by DU at 10:52 AM on February 7, 2011

For instance, on the "highest altitude" graph, there's no y axis.

Sure there is, it's labeled from 0 to 90 degrees over on the left. (Note that you have to be in Singapore or Quito if you want to see anything at the top of that strip.)
posted by theodolite at 10:59 AM on February 7, 2011

Thanks theodolite! The "rendering of the US-Canadian street discontinuity" is great; that thin lighter line showing up as the border is something that I'd expect, but to actually see it is pretty cool. Too bad the full-high-res-all-information street maps probably aren't available (although there is a zoom of just the 49th parallel) and likely to be prohibitively large, bandwidth wise.
posted by porpoise at 11:06 AM on February 7, 2011

Astrologers have been doing this for ages, it's called a Graphic Ephemeris.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:48 PM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Also, astronomers have been doing this for ages. Sky and Telescope Magazine does a lovely "Skygazer's Almanac" centerfold pullout every January that has the moon, planets, and major stars laid out for the entire year. I have it on my wall right now, and at a glance I can see that Neptune has just set, while the Pleiades are transiting right now (i.e. reaching their highest point in the sky). Saturn rises around 10:15, and Jupiter will set around 9:15 tonight. Mercury rises around 6:35 tomorrow morning, but will probably be too hard to see in the morning twilight. Cool stuff!

(no, it's not online, but your local library should have it in the January issue. The S&T online site does have lots of nice links and graphics for this week's night sky, and is worth checking out.)
posted by math at 4:51 PM on February 7, 2011

If you have an iPad, check out the Emerald Observatory app. Easily the nicest geeky clock/orrery/ephemeris-type app out there.
posted by jquinby at 5:08 PM on February 7, 2011

Oooo this is wonderful for this map geek. I'm creating a map for Vancouver as we speak.

However, his rendering of US-Canadian Street Discontinuity is incorrect at the Nighthawk - Chopaka crossing in British Columbia. Chopaka road is several km to the West of the Nighhawk border crossing. And the Nighthawk crossing is called Nighthawk on both sides of the border. Been there, crossed that ;)
posted by seawallrunner at 6:31 PM on February 7, 2011

math: no, it's not online, but your local library should have it in the January issue
The custom nature of this app is lovely for me, in a non-capital city, southern hemisphere location. Yeah, I can buy my local star mags, but it is nice to have an online source that is tailored exactly to my location.
posted by bystander at 4:26 AM on February 8, 2011

Mmmmmm handy charts of star events as framed through New-England-ish points of view... hits my buttons, it does.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:39 AM on February 8, 2011

Indeed. With a few wrappers and some geolocation constants, in should be possible to develop a class with the method Stars.Right() returning a Boolean.
posted by adipocere at 10:58 AM on February 9, 2011

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