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    Re: making your own almanac
    From: Frank Reed CT
    Date: 2007 Jan 8, 20:35 EST
    "Can anyone on the list direct me to some (simple?) sources that would
    describe how one would go about making his or her own almanac.   I just
    finished reading a fictional biography of Nathaniel Bowditch called
    "carry on Mr Bowditch" that was written for young adults in the 1950's.
    The author has the 14 year old Bowditch "writing his own almanac" .
    Whether or not this actually happened, I am curious as to how one would
    approach this task."
     
    Can you elaborate on which aspect of this interests you? Do you want to know how Bowditch and contemporaries might have assembled an almanac? Do you want to make your own almanac using semi-traditional methods? Do you want to make your own almanac using the best modern methods? Or something else entirely.
     
    By the way, the book "Carry on Mr. Bowditch" is a great read but it contains numerous factual inaccuracies. Most importantly, the whole "eureka" moment about lunars and measuring three stars and all that and the very idea that Bowditch somehow revolutionized the lunar distance method is just plain hogwash (she was repeating and then magnifying a common mis-statement). That said, yes, it's true that young Bowditch made his own almanac. But this is partly a game of smoke and mirrors. Tools were available in the era that would enable any industrious person to publish his or her own almanac localized for the observer's location. A comparable modern task would be porting an open-source software product to a new platform. It looks difficult if you don't know anything about it. You can imagine a teen today being declared a genius for porting a piece of software to his cell phone --if the people seeing the result know nothing about software development. Yes, it's a nice project that requires attention and hard work but no more than that. Creating his own almanac in Bowditch's era shows, above all, the creative power of innocence. Bowditch didn't know that he was too young to make his own almanac by any reasonable measure, so he did it anyway.
     
    Finally, if you would like to read a real biography of Nathaniel Bowditch, get a copy of "Yankee Stargazer" by Berry. It's good. There are several others, all fairly bad.
     
    -FER
    42.0N 87.7W, or 41.4N 72.1W.
    www.HistoricalAtlas.com/lunars

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