January February March. April May June. July August September. October November December.
1833 (undated) 15 x 14 in (38.1 x 35.56 cm)
This is a beautifully hand colored set of four maps depicting the night sky in the twelve months of the year, by Elijah Burritt. Each sheet features the stars and constellation in the night sky over a quarter. On each of the charts, the constellations are drawn in detail and include depictions of the Zodiacal figures the stars are said to represent.
The first map (image top left) represents the sky in the months of January, February and March. Included on this chart are Taurus (the Bull), Gemini (the Twins), Cancer (the Crab), Canis Major (the Greater Dog), Canis Minor (the Lesser Dog) and Orion. The second map (image top right) represents the sky in the months of April, May and June. Included on this chart are Leo (the Lion), Virgo (the Virgin), Bootes, Hydra (the Snake) and the Centaur, among others. The map representing the months of July, August and September (image bottom left) feature Scorpio (the Scorpion), Sagittarius (the Archer), Capricorn (the Goat), Serpentarins (the Serpent Bearer) and Taurus (the Bull). The fourth chart (image bottom right) depicts the night sky as it appears in the last quarter of the year, October, November and December. Included on this chart are Aquarius (the Water Bearer), Aries (the Ram), Pisces (the Fish), Capricorn (the Sea Goat) and Cetus (the Whale).
All four maps are quartered by lines indicating the Solstitial and Equinoctial Colures. These maps, like all of Burritt's charts, are based on the celestial cartographic work of Pardies and Doppelmayr. The maps were created by E. H. Burritt and issued as plate nos. I, II, III and IV in the Second Edition of F. J. Huntington's Atlas, Designed To Illustrate The Geography Of The Heavens. The present example is exceptional in that only a small percentage of the first edition of Burritt atlases featured individually colorized constellations. This edition also shows a relatively early form of illustrations. In most subsequent editions, the constellation charts received a general, but non-specific wash and more detailed illustrations.
Elijah Hinsdale Burritt (April 20, 1794 - January 3, 1838) was an American astronomer and mathematician active in Connecticut. Burritt is often called 'the forgotten astronomer.' Burrito was born to an impoverished family and was initially apprenticed as a blacksmith. After an injury on the job, Burritt turned to astronomy with a passion. He studied at Williams Collage, from which he graduated in 1816. After graduation he moved to Milledgeville, then capital of Georgia. He bought at local schools for several years but, being a northerner, began to feel uncomfortable as his 'yankee attitudes' alienated him from his peers. He returned to Connecticut in 1829 and turned his parents home into an observatory to pursue his love of astronomy. Burrito then organized a group of 30 settlers to relocate to the newly formed Republic of Texas. There Burritt and many of his fellow settlers contracted Yellow Fever and died. His seminal work, Burritt's Geography of the Heavens was published from Hartford, Connecticut, from approximately 1833. The work, while primarily educational in nature, was the seminal American geography of the period. Much of the nomenclature they developed, especially regarding the visible stars and constellations of the Southern Hemisphere, is still in use today. The Atlas itself consisted of eight charts depicting the Heavens seasonally and hemispherically. Constellations were depicted figurally though only the most important stars were noted. The Geography of the Heavens was the last decorative Celestial reference in the 19th century. Burrit's Geography was among the most prized possessions of fantasy / horror writer H.P. Lovecraft who wrote:
"My maternal grandmother, who died when I was six, was a devoted lover of astronomy, having made that a specialty at Lapham Seminary, where she was educated; and though she never personally showed me the beauties of the skies, it is to her excellent but somewhat obsolete collection of astronomical books that I owe my affection for celestial science. Her copy of Burritt's Geography of the Heavens is today the most prized volume in my library." (to Maurice W. Moe, 1 January 1915)
As a side note Elijah Burritt is the brother of the more famous Elihu Burritt, who was known for his philanthropic and social work.
Huntington, F.J., Atlas, Designed To Illustrate The Geography Of The Heavens, Second Edition, (Hartford) 1833.
Very good. Overall age toning. Some foxing throughout. Manuscript markings in pencil, can be easily erased.
Rumsey 2853.002, 2853.003 (1835 edition). Kanas, N., Star Maps, p. 277-78. Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich, Elijah Burritt and the 'Geography of the Heavens.', Sky & Telescope 69 (Jan 1985).