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Re: VMs: The Star Chart on f68r3
> Herbals generally fall into two categories - "copyist" and "empiricist" -
> and the VMS definitely seems to fall within the latter (as well as
> "fantasist", though that might be from bad copying).
> This empiricist mindset (coupled with the apparent lack of a metaphorical
> dimension to the diagrams) leads me to assert this: whenever you see a
> diagram in the VMS, the most appropriate first reaction should be to
> analyse its structure *literally*, as a mode of information representation
> - perhaps not a familiar mode, but as the manuscript apparently dates from
> well before the establishment of modern diagrammatic cliches, that's not
> entirely surprising. :-)
I started on f68r3 trying not to have any preconcieved notions about it, but
let the data take me where it wanted to go. There is very little ambiguity
the star identifications, and I'm about 95% confident of my findings.
> So: thus far, you're doing extremely well! :-)
Thanks! As long as my research has value for others, I'm content.
> Looking afresh at f68r3, then, I'm very comfortable with your proposed
> identification with the night sky stars: but as the central figure looks
> like a fairly full moon, would its light have overpowered the light from
> the stars around it? My Astronomy O-Level hasn't equipped me to answer
> this. :-o
Yes, it would have. The Moon is just past full, and the identified stars
range from +3 to +5.5 magnitudes, so would have been swamped by
moonlight. They were apparently not picked for their brightness, but
for the fact they bracket and point at a specific spot in the sky.
> Here's an alternate reading to consider - if it were instead a drawing of
> the night sky during a *lunar eclipse*, then the stars around it might
> become more clearly visible (in a medieval / late modern context, ie
> without significant light pollution). For an empiricist astronomer, this
> kind of event would probably be something of interest worth recording (in
> some way).
Hm. That's a thought. But if it was recording a lunar eclipse, I would think
the Moon would be shown blacked out entirely, instead of specifically
in waning gibbous phase.
> May I therefore suggest checking to see if historically a lunar eclipse
> occurred with the moon roughly at that same position in the night sky as
Actually, while running the program, I've noticed some instances where
the Moon was eclipsed in that spot, but other than stopping to see what
had happened, paid it no mind.
> Also: as I believe both the 9-rosette map page and the cipherbet have
> links with Milan, you might also consider moving your (virtual) location
> there: 45 degrees 27' N 9 degrees 17' E. :-)
The first time I saw that rosette page, I thought, "That's a map." As for
my viewing location, I'd rather not at this stage of the game. Once a set of
has been collected, then changing the location would show if the event
above the horizon or not. That may or may not help narrow the possible
> Keep going, this is fascinating! :-)
Thanks, Nick! I was almost afraid to check my email today, not knowing
what kind of reception my post had. But I had to have the courage of my
convictions! : )
BTW-- If anybody wants it, I can make a .jpg of the sky on 20 Oct. 1233,
email it to you, and you can see for yourself.
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