New Day Cafe: The Solar System Quilt

A description of his Marginalian work:…

“In October 1883, a National Capital newspaper reported under the headline “Current Gossip” that “an Iowa woman spent seven years embroidering the solar system on a quilt” – a short story originally printed in Iowa and featured widely in newspapers across the country this fall and winter. The New York Times reprinted the report as it appeared in the Iowa Journal, dismissively calling it a “somewhat comedic statement.”

The woman in question, Ellen HardingBaker (June 8, 1847 – March 30, 1886), was not a person to be dismissed with a condescending chuckle. Baker taught science in rural Iowa, at a time when most colleges were still closed to women, while raising her five surviving children. She used it solar system quilt to illustrate his astronomy lessons. To ensure the accuracy of her embroidered depiction, Baker traveled to the Chicago Observatory to view sunspots and a comet – most likely the Great Comet of 1882, which had become a national attraction – through the professional telescope that was there…

The quilt, designed long before we knew the universe contained galaxies other than our own, depicts a huge, radiant sun orbiting known planets before Pluto was discovered in 1930, in the shape of a comet – the one of those mysterious and enchanting celestial bodies, exalted in poems and foreseen in medieval paintings — blazes in a corner. The quilt is made of wool, lined with cotton and wool fabric, and embroidered with silk and wool.

From the Smithsonian:…

“The large object in the center of the quilt is clearly the Sun, and the fixed stars are on the outer edges. Surrounding the Sun are the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth and the Moon and Mars. Both Not shown are the moons of Mars that were first seen at the U.S. Naval Observatory in 1877. The four curious clusters beyond Mars represent asteroids.The first asteroid (Ceres) was discovered in 1801, and with the proliferation of ever more powerful telescopes, more and more objects came into view.Then there are Jupiter with its four moons first seen by Galileo, and Saturn with its rings. around Uranus are somewhat confusing, as astronomers disagreed on the actual number Neptune has the only moon discovered by an English astronomer in 1846, shortly after the planet itself was seen .

The large feature at the top left of the quilt is surely the naked-eye comet that burst into view in the spring of 1874 and was named in honor of Jérôme Eugène Coggia, an astronomer at the Marseille Observatory. Americans have also taken note. Indeed, an amateur astronomer from Chicago placed a powerful telescope on the balcony of the Interstate Industrial Exposition Building (1872-1892), a large glass structure recently erected along the shores of Lake Michigan, and offered to show the comet of Coggia to citizens and visitors. to the windy city.

Have a cup of coffee,

a delight,


and share what concerns you this morning.

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