Botjes planetarium

Botjes Planetarium
1896 Newspaper report: arrival in North America
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Kalamazoo Morning News, Tuesday, August 4, 1896 (page 8)



Fifteen Years Required in Its Construction--The Mechanism in Strict Conformity With the Movements of the Heavenly Bodies--Device Owned by a Kalamazoo Gentleman.

B. H. Bos, who lives at 514 Elizabeth street in this city, is the owner of a most wonderfully devised and ingenious machine from which wonderful results are obtained by purely mechanical means. He calls it a "Planetarium," and by it the complete movement of the planets and everything relative thereto is shown according to the Copernian system.

Mr. Bos is a Hollander by birth and came to this country last spring. By trade he is a watchmaker. The wonderful machine was built by his uncle, W. B. Bojes [sic], who was a common Holland watchmaker. It required fifteen years for him to complete it, the finishing touches being given it in 1868. It had run continually until last spring, when, while being brought across the ocean by Mr. Bos, who inherited it, it became out of order during a storm at sea. During the summer he has repaired it and now has it in operation again.

This intricate device which gives an interested observer a comprehensive idea of the movements of the planets and their relations with each other may best be described by taking each dial at a time. It is contained in a box about three and a half feet in diameter and one foot in depth, with glass sides and tops of octagon shape. On its service [sic] are to be seen six dials with numerous pointers, figures and cogwheels.

Dial No. 1--Shows the days of the week.

Dial No. 2--Is a common clock dial showing the time of day same as any other clock.

Dial No. 3--Shows accurately the year round the time of the rising and setting of the sun, which of course varies very much at different seasons of the year. It also shows [c]ommon time and central time.

Dial No. 4--Is perhaps the most intricate of all, showing the planets, Mercury, Venus, earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus, revolving about the sun in their proper relative positions, describing their proper orbits the time which is taken by the planets on the dial to describe their orbits being the same as actually required by the planets themselves in the solar sys[t]em. Thus mercury goes around in eighty-seven days and a fraction, Venus in a little over 224 days, earth in one year, Mars in 687 hours [sic], Jupiter in a little less than twelve years, Saturn in twenty-nine and a half years and Uranus gets around in a little less than eighty-four years. Thus it will be seen how very complicated and slow must be some of the movements. Uranus travels about one inch space on the dial in one year's time, and yet it is continually moving. This same dial shows also the position of any planet in any season of the year and the signs of the zodiac.

Dial No. 5--Shows the firmament with the stars and constellations, and sun and moon showing when the latter rises and sets.

Dial No. 6--Shows when the eclipses of the sun and moon will occur. Also shows accurately the various phases of the moon, whether it is full or no moon at all. One hand on this dial shows the "knots" [nodes] and traverses the face of the dial to the right once in eighteen years and 229 days. Another hand goes once to the left in seven years and shows the "points" [of perigee and apogee]. This dial also shows the days of the month. A thread is drawn about the outer edge of the machine by which may be seen the orbits which the planets describe.

The machine contains ninety five cogwheels and is run by one main spring. It is well worth any one's time to see this truly wonderful piece of mechanism.

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Transcribed 8/11/03 and revised 8/27/3 by Larry Molnar