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kucharek
2005-Mar-30, 07:01 AM
Why is the state flag of Alaska astronomically so inaccurate?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d5/Alaska_state_flag.png
http://i134.exs.cx/img134/5125/hk200408312134404qi.jpg

Harald

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-30, 07:11 AM
I don't know, but I did a Google image search and noticed that while many of the results used that design, many others used a more accurate one. So I'm not sure how much consistency there is in the exact placement of the stars on the flag.

Edit: Yet another design appears here (http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/oed/student_info/student.htm), on the State of Alaska's website. This design is highly schematized and makes no attempt at accuracy.

Edit 2: It is understandable that they might shorten the distance from the Dipper to Polaris so that it fits better on the flag, but it's odd that the Dipper is so distorted in some versions of the flag.

Edit 3: OK, there seem to be four basic designs recurring around the Web:

fairly accurate (http://www.alamoflag.com/alamoflag/StateFlags/stateflag_alaska.html)
schematic (http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/oed/student_info/student.htm)
weird #1 (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d5/Alaska_state_flag.png) (the one kucharek posted)
weird #2 (http://worldatlas.com/webimage/flags/usa/akflagl.htm) (handle of the Dipper curves the wrong way)

Not sure what to make of it, but if anyone wants to send a delegation of BABBers to Juneau to take this up with the governor, I'm in.

Enzp
2005-Mar-30, 07:46 AM
Why does Mickey Mouse so little resemble a real mouse?

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-30, 07:52 AM
Why does Mickey Mouse so little resemble a real mouse?
Because he was designed to have an appealing, humanlike face and look good in an animated cartoon. Probably not factors that go into consideration when designing state flags.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Mar-30, 09:17 AM
weird #2 (http://worldatlas.com/webimage/flags/usa/akflagl.htm) (handle of the Dipper curves the wrong way)

Not sure what to make of it, but if anyone wants to send a delegation of BABBers to Juneau to take this up with the governor, I'm in.
That last one says "If you would like to submit an addition, change or correction, or suggest a new link, please forward it to our map department and we will give it our immediate attention." I guess it's time. :)

PS: Here's another unusual version (http://sled.alaska.edu/akfaq/akflag.html) :)

Swift
2005-Mar-30, 01:39 PM
PS: Here's another unusual version (http://sled.alaska.edu/akfaq/akflag.html) :)
:lol:
Like a lot of telescope plates, the "stars" in that one are black on a white background. :wink:

LTC8K6
2005-Mar-30, 02:13 PM
Merely another attempt by TPTB to hide planet X from you. :D

jfribrg
2005-Mar-30, 03:18 PM
Edit: Yet another design appears here (http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/oed/student_info/student.htm), on the State of Alaska's website. This design is highly schematized and makes no attempt at accuracy.



The blue field is for the sky and the forget-me-not, the state flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly of the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear, symbolizing strength.

That statement from the Alaska web site doesn't make sense to me. The obvious analogy is that the lower 48 states are the dipper and Polaris is Alaska. Navagationally, the dipper serves no purpose except to point you to Polaris. It is Alaska's way of saying that they are more important than all the others. I think the design is brilliant. IIRC, the flag was chosen via a contest in all of Alaska's schools.

tlbs101
2005-Mar-30, 03:38 PM
Due to precession and movement of the solar system through the galaxy, maybe that's the apparent position of those stars way back when Alaska became a state.

:lol:

Swift
2005-Mar-30, 04:19 PM
The blue field is for the sky and the forget-me-not, the state flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly of the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear, symbolizing strength.

That statement from the Alaska web site doesn't make sense to me. The obvious analogy is that the lower 48 states are the dipper and Polaris is Alaska. Navagationally, the dipper serves no purpose except to point you to Polaris. It is Alaska's way of saying that they are more important than all the others. I think the design is brilliant. IIRC, the flag was chosen via a contest in all of Alaska's schools.
To me, the thing that makes the least sense is the bit about forget-me-nots. To my eye, that color is no where close to forget-me-nots (I have some in my yard), which are a much lighter blue-violet.
http://www.shortcourses.com/naturelog/forget-me-nots.jpg

kucharek
2005-Mar-30, 04:39 PM
I think the design is brilliant.

And the Europeans took it, took a few more stars and put it in better order for their own design ;-)

http://img178.exs.cx/img178/1087/flagofeurope3hq.gif

Evan
2005-Mar-30, 04:47 PM
I take that to represent gravitational lensing caused by the the dark matter representing the extremely massive bureaucracy.

jfribrg
2005-Mar-30, 04:47 PM
Edit: Yet another design appears here (http://www.commerce.state.ak.us/oed/student_info/student.htm), on the State of Alaska's website. This design is highly schematized and makes no attempt at accuracy.



The blue field is for the sky and the forget-me-not, the state flower. The North Star is for the future of the state of Alaska, the most northerly of the Union. The dipper is for the Great Bear, symbolizing strength.

That statement from the Alaska web site doesn't make sense to me. The obvious analogy is that the lower 48 states are the dipper and Polaris is Alaska. Navagationally, the dipper serves no purpose except to point you to Polaris. It is Alaska's way of saying that they are more important than all the others. I think the design is brilliant. IIRC, the flag was chosen via a contest in all of Alaska's schools.

It may not make sense, but apparently it's correct. Here (http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flags/ak_flag.htm) is a history of the flag.

pghnative
2005-Mar-30, 06:54 PM
To me, the thing that makes the least sense is the bit about forget-me-nots. To my eye, that color is no where close to forget-me-nots (I have some in my yard), which are a much lighter blue-violet.
http://www.shortcourses.com/naturelog/forget-me-nots.jpg


Here (http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flags/ak_flag.htm) is a history of the flag.

Interestingly, if the scan from the Alaska State Museum is to be trusted color-wise, the original drawing by "Benny" Benson was a much brighter blue, and more closely matches the coloration of both the sky and Swift's forget-me-nots. I wonder who make the change to the darker blue.

Candy
2005-Mar-30, 06:57 PM
PS: Here's another unusual version (http://sled.alaska.edu/akfaq/akflag.html) :)
:lol:
Like a lot of telescope plates, the "stars" in that one are black on a white background. :wink:
At first I didn't get this, because I didn't look at the title. :oops:

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-30, 07:25 PM
Here (http://www.netstate.com/states/symb/flags/ak_flag.htm) is a history of the flag.

Interestingly, if the scan from the Alaska State Museum is to be trusted color-wise, the original drawing by "Benny" Benson was a much brighter blue, and more closely matches the coloration of both the sky and Swift's forget-me-nots. I wonder who make the change to the darker blue.
Note also that Benny's Big Dipper was considerably more accurate than the one in the large flag image on that page. And check out the difference between the large flag image and the little one at the top of the page, next to the word "Alaska"!

My family took a trip to Alaska one summer, and we brought back a flag which is currently hanging above our basement stairwell. Maybe I can get my mom to send me a photo of it.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Mar-30, 07:53 PM
The design, standard proportions, and size of the Alaskan State Flag are in state law Alaska Statute AS 44.09.020 (http://touchngo.com/lglcntr/akstats/Statutes/Title44/Chapter09/Section020.htm), but I didn't find a complete online version.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-30, 07:58 PM
The design, standard proportions, and size of the Alaskan State Flag are in state law Alaska Statute AS 44.09.020 (http://touchngo.com/lglcntr/akstats/Statutes/Title44/Chapter09/Section020.htm), but I didn't find a complete online version.
Well, that at least explains the blue:

The stars shall be the color of natural yellow gold and the field of blue shall be of the same shade of blue used in the official manufacture of the national emblem of the United States.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Mar-30, 08:21 PM
I found a similar copy of the Alaska statutes here (http://www.legis.state.ak.us/)--it also says "REFER TO THE BOOK FOR THE PROPER FORM"

But I did find that AS 44.09.130 establishes the four spot skimmer dragonfly as the official state insect.

I think the gadfly should be the official BABB insect.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Mar-30, 08:35 PM
Here (http://www.yukonalaska.com/photography/images/alaska-flag-5836.html) is a photo of an actual Alaska flag flying in Valdez, Alaska. Its design appears fairly accurate.

I'm inclined to think that this is just a matter of some poor images being copied on the Web.

Edited for punctuation.

Swift
2005-Mar-30, 08:57 PM
The good thing about the Alaska flag is you know it is not a hoax.....
You always see stars in the photos!
:lol:

Jpax2003
2005-Mar-30, 09:11 PM
Don't forget that the Alaskan flag is oriented to the right. We all know that in standard cartography up is north, however if the dipper points to Polaris then Polaris should be at top center. hmmm... :-k

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Mar-31, 10:11 AM
Don't forget that the Alaskan flag is oriented to the right. We all know that in standard cartography up is north, however if the dipper points to Polaris then Polaris should be at top center. hmmm...
Any map of the stars which has Polaris in it will not have Polaris at the top. :)

lti
2005-Apr-01, 08:16 AM
ive never seen that particular constellation before. what is it?

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-01, 02:43 PM
ive never seen that particular constellation before. what is it?
The large star in the upper right hand corner of the flag is Polaris, the North Star. The other stars form the Big Dipper (so called because it looks like a ladle), which is part of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The Big Dipper is one of the brightest and most obvious constellations (even with heavy light pollution), but it's in the northern sky so I don't think you can see it from New Zealand.

The Big Dipper is useful because the two stars at the end of its "cup" are roughly in a line with Polaris, which is almost directly above the North Pole (hence the name) and thus indicates which way is north. The North Star is also the end of the "handle" of the fainter Little Dipper, or Ursa Minor. (Apparently the ancients thought that bears looked like spoons.)

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Apr-01, 06:09 PM
(Apparently the ancients thought that bears looked like spoons.)
I'm not so sure that I would call a dipper (http://oldworldcharms.net/colonial-wooden-ladle-water-dipper-museum-quality-p-125.html) or a ladle a spoon--it's more specialized. Still, the Big Dipper is not Ursa Major, it's just a part of it.

Kesh
2005-Apr-02, 06:46 PM
ive never seen that particular constellation before. what is it?

Like Tomba said, it's a northern hemisphere constellation. You'll never see it down there, just as we can never see the Southern Cross up here.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-02, 07:29 PM
(Apparently the ancients thought that bears looked like spoons.)
I'm not so sure that I would call a dipper (http://oldworldcharms.net/colonial-wooden-ladle-water-dipper-museum-quality-p-125.html) or a ladle a spoon--it's more specialized. Still, the Big Dipper is not Ursa Major, it's just a part of it.
Well, that website calls a dipper a ladle, and it's basically the same tool as a spoon, just a different version for a different specialized use. Basically, it's a bucket attached to a stick. And I know the Dippers aren't the entire Bears; one can make fine distinctions or one can make smart remarks, and I chose the latter. :P

Edit: By the way, I asked my family to send me a photo of that Alaska flag I mentioned. I'll post it when I get it (probably have to bug them three more times before they remember, though).

Tobin Dax
2005-Apr-03, 02:02 AM
I think the design is brilliant.

And the Europeans took it, took a few more stars and put it in better order for their own design ;-)

http://img178.exs.cx/img178/1087/flagofeurope3hq.gif

Looks to me like they borrowed that design from somewhere else (http://www.what-means.com/encyclopedia/Image:13-stars-us-flag.png). The Brits probably took some coaxing before they agreed to it. :wink:

Gramma loreto
2005-Apr-03, 04:49 AM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v283/PetersCreek/ak_2.jpg

Now, y'all quit pickin' on my state flag.

A Thousand Pardons
2005-Apr-03, 11:50 AM
one can make fine distinctions or one can make smart remarks, and I chose the latter. :P
decisions, decisions, decisions

W.F. Tomba
2005-Apr-03, 08:23 PM
Here's the flag we've got at home; if the picture's too wide for anybody, speak up and I'll change it to a link.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y120/wftomba/alaskaflag2.jpg
At this point, it seems very unlikely that the inaccurate design is the real official one. I think I will e-mail the more prominent sites that use it (particularly the state government site) and suggest that they switch to a different image.

Sam5
2005-Apr-03, 08:26 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v283/PetersCreek/ak_2.jpg

Now, y'all quit pickin' on my state flag.


LOL! Geepers, that's funny!

Gillianren
2005-Apr-29, 01:07 AM
Why does Mickey Mouse so little resemble a real mouse?
Because he was designed to have an appealing, humanlike face and look good in an animated cartoon. Probably not factors that go into consideration when designing state flags.

it did in ours. (no, I'm not tracking down a picture; my skill at code isn't good enough to show it to you anyway. if you don't get it, check my location and do a quick search.)

and the BA should have pointed out by now that the Big Dipper is an asterism.

SeanF
2005-Apr-29, 01:21 PM
Why does Mickey Mouse so little resemble a real mouse?
Because he was designed to have an appealing, humanlike face and look good in an animated cartoon. Probably not factors that go into consideration when designing state flags.

it did in ours. (no, I'm not tracking down a picture; my skill at code isn't good enough to show it to you anyway. if you don't get it, check my location and do a quick search.)
Gillian's State Flag (http://www.50states.com/flag/waflag.htm).

:)


and the BA should have pointed out by now that the Big Dipper is an asterism.
Yes, indeedy.

Gillianren
2005-Apr-29, 07:20 PM
Gillian's State Flag (http://www.50states.com/flag/waflag.htm).

thanks! now, see, that's a human face--the only flag in the country to have one.

Candy
2005-Apr-29, 09:53 PM
Gillian's State Flag (http://www.50states.com/flag/waflag.htm).

thanks! now, see, that's a human face--the only flag in the country to have one.
It looks like a quarter, or should I say dollar bill? :wink:

gill
2009-Mar-22, 03:54 AM
The big dipper of the Alaska flag was placed by Benny Benson in the position that (he believed) minimized the chance of anyone in Alaska ever seeing it that way against a dark sky.

01101001
2009-Mar-22, 04:27 AM
The big dipper of the Alaska flag was placed by Benny Benson in the position that (he believed) minimized the chance of anyone in Alaska ever seeing it that way against a dark sky. In Fairbanks and north, they will never see it against a dark sky in that position. This had to be intended by him. But why?

I doubt that was his belief and intention. Do you have a citation for that?

It looks to me like a more simple layout decision, a way of incorporating the 8 specific stars, somewhat to scale, within a rectangular field, with the Dipper looking like a dipper.

That the position reflects a roughly summertime midnight view, which in the land of the midnight sun is not directly observed, I suspect may be a side effect and not a design goal.

I'd be interested to read that it was a goal.

Edit: Or, would it be seen to take that position during winter, around noon? I'm not used to thinking about "daytime" stargazing.

Edit: Oh, and welcome, gill, to the BAUT Forum.

Gillianren
2009-Mar-22, 04:39 AM
Just so people are aware, this is a four-year-old thread. I was practically new around here then!

novaderrik
2009-Mar-22, 06:47 AM
Just so people are aware, this is a four-year-old thread. I was practically new around here then!

i made it halfway thru this thread before realizing that..
looks like we have a brand new member here that's into thread necromancy.
i'm sure the revival of this thread is the result of a google search involving the Alaska state flag..

mugaliens
2009-Mar-22, 03:11 PM
Because he was designed to have an appealing, humanlike face and look good in an animated cartoon. Probably not factors that go into consideration when designing state flags.

No, but there are other considerations which induce similar departures from reality. For example, when's the last time you saw 50 stars of identical magnitude lined up in rows?

Sporting 5-pointed arms, no less...

Nowhere Man
2009-Mar-22, 04:16 PM
looks like we have a brand new member here that's into thread necromancy.
I wouldn't say that about gill. He's (she's?) only revived this one thread.

Fred

novaderrik
2009-Mar-22, 07:23 PM
yes, but it's the only post by that person- so that's a 100% thread necromancy rate so far..

Tucson_Tim
2009-Mar-22, 07:33 PM
Let's hope EDG_ doesn't see this thread. He'll go bananas.

gill
2009-Mar-22, 08:50 PM
I think senior member 01101001 is correct. The placement of the big dipper on the Alaskan flag was most likely a layout decision of some sort, either by Benson or an artist who reinterpreted Benson's suggestion. My revival of a dead thread was a result of a Google search (senior member novaderrik). The position of the big dipper on the Alaskan flag corresponds to between 2 and 3 PM on December 21 in Fairbanks. Checking out the rest of the year, I can't find any date where the configuration shown on the Alaskan flag can be seen against a black sky in Fairbanks. This may be why the background on the flag is blue. If so, it is a very clever characterization of Alaskan latitudes.

novaderrik
2009-Mar-22, 10:47 PM
and now it's only a 50% thread necromancy rate...
keep posting, and the number will get lower..
and welcome...

kleindoofy
2009-Mar-23, 12:24 AM
... this is a four-year-old thread. ...
I'm surprised by how many of the links in the first few posts still work.

Noclevername
2009-Mar-24, 06:53 PM
Because he was designed to have an appealing, humanlike face and look good in an animated cartoon. Probably not factors that go into consideration when designing state flags.

Actually, the same factors probably yes. Both are intended to appeal to the general public, get attention, and garner good feelings and support. Accuracy comes in a distant fourth, it it's even considered at all. Politicians, even state ones, tend not to be all about the good science. And the ones that wind up on low-totem-pole things like flag-design comittees aren't usually even the best and brightest of that bunch.