Upcoming Talks

19 January, Washington, DC. The authors of Mapping the West with Lewis and Clark (Levenger, 2015) will discuss their book. “Ralph E. Ehrenberg, chief of the Library’s Geography and Map Division, and his co-author, Smithsonian Institution curator emeritus Herman J. Viola, retrace the expedition with more than 100 images reproduced in exquisite detail.” Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial Building (6th floor), 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20050. Noon. Free admission.

21 January, Chicago. Chicago Map Society meeting. Prof. Harry L. Stern will give a talk entitled “How Close was Captain Cook to Discovering the Northwest Passage?” Ruggles Hall, The Newberry Library, 60 West Walton Street, Chicago IL 60610. 5:30 PM. Donations requested.


21 January, Washington, DC. Dr. Geoffrey Martin will discuss his bookAmerican Geography and Geographers: Toward Geographical Science (Oxford University Press, 2015). The event will include “a display of related rare maps and atlases from the collections of the library’s Geography and Map Division.” Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial Building (basement room B-02), 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington DC 20050. 7:00 PM. Free admission.

26 January, New York. Andrew Kapochunas of LithuanianMaps.com will give a talk entitled “How Maps and Map Collecting Helped an Immigrant Find His Place in the World.” “Andrew will take attendees on a journey through time, beginning with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th Century, and through space, as he discusses his struggle to find his place in the world.” New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwartzman Building, South Court: Classroom A, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, New York, NY 10018. 6:30 PM. Free admission.

4 February, London. Maps and Society lecture. Dr. Kevin Sheehan will give a talk on “Construction and Reconstruction: Investigating How Portolan Maps Were Produced by Reproducing a Fifteenth-Century Chart of the Mediterranean.” Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London, Woburn Square, London WC1H OAB. 5:00 PM. Free admission.

4 February, Kennebunk, ME. “Mapping the History of Boatbuilding in Kennebunkport.” Dinner and lecture. “Osher Map Library’s Matthew Edney and local historian Steve Spofford will explore the interconnection beetween early maps and the rise of shipbuilding in Kennebunkport.” Table, 27 Western Avenue, Kennebunk ME 04043. 5:00 PM. $70. [tickets]

5 February, Boston. Boston Map Society meeting. “Dr. Ron Grim, Curator of Maps at the Normal B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, will talk about these off-site maps hung at the Langham Hotel while guests taste Scotch. (Lecture is free, drinks are pay-as-consume.)” Langham Hotel, 250 Franklin Street, Boston MA 02110. No time given yet.

If all goes well, this listing of upcoming talks and lectures will be a regular feature on The Map Room. If you are organizing a map-related event, or just know about one, please contact me with the details.

Pluto Before and After

Compare pre-flyby and post-flyby maps of Pluto and you’ll get a sense of just how much our understanding of that dwarf planet’s terrain improved last year. The pre-flyby map was derived from Hubble observations, the post-flyby map from imagery collected from the New Horizons spacecraft (obviously). Image credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI/Marc Buie. [via]

Previously: New Maps of Ceres and Pluto.

Wichita Navigation Company Profiled

spica-sextant Last October the Wichita Eagle profiled Ken Gebhart, the 79-year-old owner of Celestaire, a local company that sells navigation equipment, including sextants. The sextants are Chinese imports; Celestaire itself makes the navigation tables and almanacs that accompany sextant use. You might have thought that sextants had gone the way of horses and buggies, but apparently the U.S. Navy is reviving celestial navigation training, as a fallback in the event of a GPS failure. [via]

Dubrovnik Symposium

The 6th International Symposium on the History of Cartography will be held in Dubrovnik, Croatia in October 2016. “The joint organizers invite contributions (papers and posters) on the dissemination of cartographic knowledge and the effectiveness thereof in diverse cartographic cultures and their related user groups around the globe. This includes the technological and conceptual aspects of cartographic production (maps, charts, globes, atlases, educational tools etc.), the usability of these techniques and the resulting products, as well as the conditions of the map trade as a changing network of private enterprises and official institutions, and the role of diverse audiences in the creation, circulation, consumption and ultimate preservation of knowledge.” Deadline for submissions is February 15. [via]

British Library Digitizing George III’s Map Collection

On New Year’s Eve The Arts Newspaper reported on the British Library’s efforts to digitize the 50,000 maps and plans that make up the King George III Topographical Collection. (George III was apparently quite the map collector, one not above choosing not to return maps he borrowed.) They’re about a quarter of the way through so far. The collection’s crown jewel, so to speak, is the ludicrously large (176 × 231 cm) Klencke Atlas.

Google Maps Updates

Recent Google Maps updates include driving mode, an Android-only navigation mode that, as Android Police describes it, “uses your location history and web searches to make assumptions about where you’re going and give traffic updates and ETAs as you travel” [via]. Also this week, the world’s largest model railway, Hamburg’s Minatur Wunderland, was added to Street View. Quite engrossing if you’re into model trains.

Mapping The Drowning Eyes

the-drowning-eyes the-drowning-eyes-map

To mark the publication this week of a new fantasy novella, The Drowning Eyes by Emily Foster, the artist hired to create the map, Tim Paul, wrote an essay on how he did it. I’m struck by the lengths he took to “avoid making the map look too European” and by the careful consideration of what a map from that world should look like, which is almost unheard of in the fantasy map business, where maps invariably conform to a very specific style. The end result is a map that evokes portolan charts, replete with windrose lines and looking like it was drawn on vellum. As fantasy maps go, it’s one of the finer executions I’ve seen.

Amazon: paperback (Canada, U.K.), Kindle (Canada, U.K.) | iBooks

For the audiobook version (Amazon, iTunes), the publisher has taken the map and made it interactive: clicking on a location gives you an excerpt from the book. It might not quite be “[the] newest in map technology” but it’s a small and interesting innovation as far as fantasy maps are concerned.

3D Printed Planetary Globes


On Shapeways, a site where users can upload and sell 3D-printed items, George Ioannidis is selling globes of the planets and moons of our solar system. There are individual globes, globes that take into account moons’ irregular topography (e.g. Phobos and Diemos, Iapetus), all in different sizes (none of which are very big: 50 to 200 mm), and collections where each planet and moon is to scale (as seen above, this can be somewhat unwieldy, but it’s neat for Jupiter’s Galilean moons, for example). I’m unreasonably enthusiastic about this sort of thing. [via]

Previously: Globes of the Solar System.