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L’Horloge du Laboureur by Taillardat - 1791


Here is an interesting French language book that was intended to teach people how to tell the time of night by the stars. The book is titled "L'Horloge du laboureur, ou méthode très-facile de connoître l'heure de la nuit à l'aspect des étoiles", which roughly translates to English as "The Plowman's Clock, or very easy method of knowing the hour of the night by the sight of the stars." The book was published by a French citizen named C. Taillardat in 1791. The book has a wonderful frontispiece that shows two farmers looking at the night sky. There are two sets of star charts at the back of the book. The first one shows a planisphere with the dates around the outside and it appears to show an external view of the sky (I had to do a vertical and horizontal flip of the image to get it to match my planetarium program). The ecliptic chart has the dates along the top and the hours along the bottom. It also shows the ecliptic, and the positions of the planets (Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) for 1792, but the ecliptic does not look right. One other thing to note about this book is that its publication was timed to coincide with the start of the French Revolutionary (Republican) calendar in 1792 so it is using that calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar. It is interesting to point out that the constellations use connecting lines rather than mythological figures, which would appear to show that the author may have been influenced by Alexandre Ruelle, who produced the first star charts using connecting lines. If you look at Ruelle's chart (https://teca.bncf.firenze.sbn.it/.../servlet/ImageViewer) it would appear that the author of this book largely copied Ruelle's chart. The second star chart lacks the connecting lines and labels, probably in an attempt to give a more natural representation of the sky, but it still shows the positions of the planets and the annular solar eclipse for September 5, 1793.