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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a section of
Star Names
Their Lore and Meaning

Richard Hinckley Allen

as reprinted
in the Dover edition, 1963

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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p42 Antlia Pneumatica, the Air Pump,

is La Caille's Machine Pneumatique, at first Latinized as Machina Pneumatica (which occurs in Burritt, and is the Italian name); but astronomers know it as simple Antlia.a In Germany it is the Luft Pumpe.

p43 The constellation lies just south of Crater and Hydra, bordering on the Vela of Argo along the branches of the Milky Way, and culminates on the 6th of April; Gould assigning to it eighty-five naked-eye stars.

He thinks that α, the red lucida, may be a variable, as his observers had variously noted it as of from the 4th to the 5th magnitude, and Argelander entered both of these.

La Caille's β lies within the present limits of Hydra.

Although inconspicuous, and without any named star, Antlia is of special interest to astronomers from containing the noted variable1 S, discovered in 1888 by Paul of Washington, and confirmed by Sawyer. Chandler gives its maximum as 6.7 and its minimum as 7.3, the period being 7 hours, 46 minutes, 48 seconds, — the shortest known until it was supplanted by U Pegasi with a period of 5½ hours.

The Author's Note:

1 Chandler's Third Catalogue of Variable Stars, 8th July, 1896, describes 393, to which have been added 36 to the 19th of August, 1898, — a total of 429, not including those still awaiting notation, and those found in star-clusters by the Harvard observers.

Thayer's Note: Tens of thousands of variable stars have now been catalogued, many of them in other galaxies.

Thayer's Note:

a antlia is Greek and Latin for a pump of any kind; the air suction pump here called an antlia pneumatica is mentioned only once in surviving Latin literature (Vitruv. X.7), where it is called Ctesibica machina from its inventor. For details, see the article Antlia of Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

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Page updated: 8 Sep 07