Ritter's Sundial Map
A rare and very intriguing map of the world using a uncommon variant of a polar projection that is known as a gnomonic projection, or sometimes commonly referred to as Ritter’s sundial map. The map was originally published in 1610 in Ritter’s Speculum Solis. The map has been described by Rodney Shirley as a “most unusual map projected from the North Pole as if it were the table of a sundial, with the landmasses drawn to scale in proportion to their distance form this point. The maps is thus highly distorted according to normal conceptions but it is nevertheless mathematically correct.”
It has also been argued that the map has been designed to link time and space. With the use of a gnomon placed at 45 degrees N and 10 degrees E, the viewer would be able to follow the shadow that a sundial would cast and thus be able to tell time. It should be noted that the map is drawn in way that the sun’s shadow follows the latitude on which his native city, Nuremburg, is located.
It is also interesting to note, that although Ritter is using advanced mathematical concepts to portray this polar projection, the map retains an elegant and artistic charm with the use of a beautiful wind rose and its corresponding winds, ships, and mythical sea and land creatures.
As such, Ritter’s Sun Dial map is an essential addition not only to map collectors per se, but also provides a beautiful example of 17th Century artistry in the search for new ways of representing a changing worldview during a time of scientific upheaval and geographic discoveries.
(Sources: Shirley 270, Osher Map Library #9, Section 1. History of Cartography Project, No. 11: A Map of Time)