Mitad del Mundo is a touristic attraction built in 1979 by order of Patricio Romero barberia with the intent of promoting Ecuador’s identity and the European 18th-century geodesic missions. The main entrance is a large corridor with some sculptures with the most important men who took measures in the first geodesic mission like La Condamine or…
PEDRO VICENTE MALDONADO (Riobambam 1704 – London, 1748)
- Thanks to his ample knowledge of geodesy and geography, he was one of the key members of the First Geodesic Mision.
- He was the first latin american to join the Paris Academy of Sciences.
- He drew the first geographical map of the Royal Audiencia of Quito.
- He is attributed with building the commercial route between Quito and Esmeraldas.
- Due to his notable work, he was dubbed “Knight of the Royal Chamber” by King Philip V of Spain in 1746.
- His remains lie in St. James’s Church of England.
ANTONIO DE ULLOA (Sevilla, 1716 – Isla de León, 1795)
- He was one of the sailors sent by King Philip V of Spain to form part of the Geodesic Mission.
- He went to Paris with La Condamine where he became a member of the Academy of Sciences.
- Due to his scientific work, he published “Noticias de America” (News of the Americas) in 1772.
- Together with Jorge Juan y Santacilia, he wrote the famous report entitled “Noticias Secretas” (Secret News) to the King of Spain about the state of his colonies.
JORGE JUAN Y SANTA CILIA (Alicante, 1713 – Madrid, 1773)
- He was a Spanish scientist, mathematician, naval officer and mariner. He was appointed member of the French Geodesic Mission by the King of Spain, Philip V.
- He remained in South America for many years with the purpose of studying the political and social situations in the Spanish territories.
- He wrote “Relación Histórica del Viaje a la América Meridional” (History of the Journey to Meridional America) with Antonio de Ulloa. It was published in Madrid in 1748.
The expedition was former by the French scientists La Condamine, Godin, Jussieu, Bouguer, Morinville, Verguin, Godin des Odonnais, Seniergues and Hugot, and the Spaniards Jorge Juan and Antonio de Ulloa. They left La Rochelle on May 16th, 1735 and arrived at Manta on March 9th, 1736. La Condamine separated himself from the others and performed the first measurements and observations on the coast of Manabi and on June, the members of the mission met again to select the most adequate place for a base that would be used for the necessary triangulation.
On the top of the main monument there is a big world with a rounding equatorial line…
… and inside you can see that the rotation of the water is determined by other factors like the initial rotational direction (Coriolis effect!):
It is the effect
It is the effect observed in a rotating reference system when an object is moving respect to that system. Its influence can be detected in the rotation of hurricanes, ocean currents and trade winds.
The place is lovely and the views from the top of the monument are wonderful!
There also are some sundials like these ones:
In the different museums, it is possible to learn more things about the geodesic mission and the instruments of measurement used by the scientists:
Of course, if you go to Mitad del Mundo you must play with your feet and the equatorial line: one foot in the North and one foot in the South!
This sundial is on the south wall of St. Mary’s Basilica of Krakow (also known as Church of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven).
This 14th-century church is famous because on every hour the Hejnal mariacki is played from the top of its highest tower. The song breaks doesn’t finish to commemorate the death of trumpeter who was shot in the throat while sounding the alarm before the Mongol attack on the city.
Location: St. Mary’s Church in Krakow (map)
These two sundials are on the main door of the Sanctuary of Black Madonna in Jasna Góra in Czestochowa.
Location: Jasna Góra (map)
This astronomical clock was constructed between 1464 qnd 1470 by the clockmaker Hans Düringer of Nuremberg. It’s 14 metres high and was the World’s tallest clock in the 15th century. It was reconstructed after the damages in the Second World War.
The construction of St. Mary began in 1379 and it’s currently the largest brick church in the World because of it’s 105 metres high and the nave is 66 metres wide.
It’s one of the symbols of Gdansk. For example, here you have on German Nazi propaganda poster from 1939 with St. Mary as guest star:
The clock shows the date, the time, the phases and position of the Moon and the position of the Sun in the Zodiac. On the clock Adam and Eve alongside the Three Kings, the Death and the Apostles.
There also are the calendar of the Saints so it’s a very complete clock.
By the way, there is a sundial in one of the lateral facades!
Location: Basilica of St. Mary of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Gdańsk (map)
This is one of the Top 10 Museums in Prague! The museum was founded in 1908 and has been in its current location since 1941. It’s a very big building and the collection exhibited is so big although the exhibition about transports is its main attraction:
But for me, the exhibition about Astronomy has been the interesting part of the museum and I have been able to visit it on my own meanwhile my children were playing in another room with some technical toys. The astronomical rooms are very dark so it has been very difficult to take good pictures although I’ve tried to do my best. The collections has sundials, armilar spheres, quadrants, astrolabes,… and a lot of other astronomical instruments:
For example, the polyhedrical sundials are so beautiful like this constructed on a cube by German David Beringer around 1750:
Or… what about this other constructed by Mathias Karl Krausler in 1691?
The oldest exhibited astrolabe is this unsigned one from around 1450:
And there also is an unsigned torquetum from the late 16th century:
One of the instruments which have surprised me has been Joost Bürgi’s sextant for measuring the angles of celestial bodies (I knew that Bürgi, one of the inventor of logarithms, had constructed a lot of clocks and astronomical instruments but I didn’t expect to find one here!). Kepler used it to measure two consecutive oppositions of the planet Mars in 1602 and 1604.
There also is Habermel’s sextant, built by Erasmus Habermel (1538 – 15th of November of 1606 in Prag) who was mechanic at the court of Emperor Rudolph II:
The prevailing opinion for a long time was that the instrument belonged to Brahe and so it was called the “Tychonian sextant”.
Habermel was specialised in small devices and portable sundials and one example is this sundial in the form of a book (c.1600)…
… and another is this equinoctial sundial (1585):
Finally, look at this armilar sphere from the second half of the 16th century! It’s a piece of art!
Copernicus’ house was built in the 14th/15th century in the Gothic style of the Hanseatic towns. It has a high entrance hall with an open kitchen on the ground floor and the merchant’s office. The rooms are upstairs.
The building was the property of Copernicus’ family in the years 1463-1480 and it may well be here that he was born in 1473. In an old picture it’s possible to see Napoleon Bonaparte walking in front of the present Copernicus Street nr 40. Till the end of the 19th century there was the wrong opinion that Copernicus had been born there although it seems to be the present numbers 15 and 17 the right houses. In the end of the 15th century, Copernicus’ father owned these three houses and another one in 36 and 37 Old Market Square.
Nowadays, there is a restaurant in 40 Copernicus Street…
…and a new building is a department store (“Dom Towarowy”):
The interior of the house (17 Copernicus Street) is reconstructed and the imagination is the only way to see Copernicus familiy in it.
The museum is full of portraits (I’m going to write another post about them!), the replicas of the instruments, scultures about the heliocentric system… and information about Copernicus’ life and works. For example, here you have a very modern design for Copernicus’ office:
And the room dedicated to his De Revolutionibus:
Finally, hthe replicas of Copernicus’ instruments:
A few days ago I went to Frombork where Copernicus died and today I’ve been in the house where he was born. I’ve been in Olsztyn too so… what about going to Krakow where he studied? Thus… next step: Krakow!
Location: Copernicus’ house in Torun (map)
The Long Market (Długi Targ) is one of the most important touristic attractions of Gdansk. It was a merchant road in the 13th century. After the massacre of Gdansk citizens on 13 November 1308 by Teutonic Knights, the place became the main street of the city and is name “Longa Platea” was first written in 1331. Nowadays it’s a very beautiful long square full of typical shops and restaurants which are the soul of this cosmopolutan city. One of its most representative houses is the town hall from the 16th century and Neptune’s Fountain, the main symbol of the city, is also there. This fountain was constructed in 1617 from Abraham van den Blocke’s designs.
Thus, if you visit Gdansk, you must have time to take a beer or a coffee in one of the cafes or have a typican Polish dinner in one of the restaurants which fill all the beautiful houses which can be admire in the square.
Among all these houses we also find a lot of mathematical symbols which allow me to talk of them in this new post. For example, Radisson Blue hotel is located in number 19 and the allegorical paintings of the facade are a joy for the mathematical freak:
On both sides we have some of the most important men in the history of astronomy like Hipparcus of Rhodas,
Approaching the town hall, there is another red house which is full of artists ans it’s coronated by a replica of Aristotle and Plato from Raffaello’s “School of Athens”:
In another house there also are the allegorical Astronomia rounded by Cellarius’ heliocentric systems:
And finally we find other allegories like the Architecture, the Geometry or the Geography in the opposite side of the square:
As you can see, this is an excuse to admire the beautiful facades of the houses in this square which I never tire of walking through it.
By the way, there is a beautiful sundial in the town hall:
Location: Długi Targ in Gdansk (map)
On May 2, 2014, I told you that I vidited the MMACA with some of my students and we also noticed this sundial walking from the underground station (Gavarra) to Mercader Palace. We were in a hurry so we could’n stop to analise the shadow of the gnomon but this picture must be the first step for coming back in the not too distant future.
Some weeks ago I had to stop to put gas in my car and Destiny led me to a petrol station next to Sidamon (a small village near Lleida). I took the opportunity to have a drink in the bar and… what was that? There is a big sundial in the roundabaut next to the petrol station!
All the people who lives in Sidamon (less than 700 people!) see this sundial all the days of their lifes. Why don’t they paint it? So it will bright in the middle of this big plain!
One thing more… the coffee in the bar wasn’t nice.
This great set of sundials is located in a little park next to Puerta de Toledo of Madrid. It was designed by Alberto Corazón from the astronomical calculations made by Juan José Caurcel. It was built in 1988 and the Council restored it in 2005. In fact there are six different sundials in this structure:
For example, you can see a polar dial on the top of the ‘box’ of the next picture and a lunar dial on its front. In the first one you can read the equation of time from 21st Junt to 21st December meanwhile the second is for determining the night hours in the six days after the Full Moon (the two dials in the left part of the structure are complementary to these ones!).
Regrettably, Spain is in a very deep economic crisis (although Spanish prime minister always says that everything is going to be OK!) and the space for equatorial and the vertical dials are occupied by homeless who don’t agree the prime minister’s optimism.
Location: Puerta de Toledo in Madrid (map)