As the New Year starts we all wonder what is in store for us in the coming months. However, if this was the year 1642 we wouldn’t have to speculate, we would know, if we had ‘a new Almanacke and Prognostication, for the yeare of our Lord God, 1642’ as produced by Nathanael Nye, Practitioner of Astronomy (ref 241942 ).
Nathanael Nye was a Birmingham lad, baptised at St Martin’s Birmingham on 18th April 1624. His ‘Almanacke’ was ‘Calculated exactly for the faire and populous Towne of Birmicham in Warwickshire, where the Pole is elevated above the Horizon 52 degrees, and 38 minutes, and may serve for any part of this Kingdome.’
Well, that would be good to know, along with the prospect of ‘Very cold and some wind’ around the 15th January, a bit of ‘Frost’ around the 18th and so on.
These little books were annual publications which advised upon the weather, astronomical details such as the times of the rising and setting of the sun, phases of the moon and the places of the planets throughout the year, the various Saints’ days you wouldn’t want to miss and much more. There is even an informative little guide to parts of the body as governed by the signs of the zodiac ….handy!
Not only did Nye’s talents lie in astronomy, he also dabbled in arithmetic, theoretical mathematics and cartography. He was very handy with a canon (well, there was a Civil War going on) and was a master gunner for the Parliamentarian garrison at Evesham in 1645 and orchestrated the artillery at the siege of Worcester in 1646 where his mathematical prowess no doubt came to the fore.
His ‘Almanacke’ finishes with this:
‘O what a pleasure was it to survay,
Natures chiefe work, the Heavens, there we may
View the alternate courses of the Sunne,
The sacred Chariots, how the World doth runne,
The Moones bright orb, when she’s attended by
Those scattered Stars, whose light adornes the Sky.’
So, whatever the New Year brings, I think we should adopt a little of Nathanael Nye’s philosophy. Look to the sky, fingers crossed and hope for the best!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Judy Dennison January 2015