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

by
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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p92

Boötes' golden wain.

Pope's Statius His Thebais.

Boötes only seem'd to roll

His Arctic charge around the Pole.

Byron's 3d Ode in Hours of Idleness.

Boötes,

the Italians' Boote and the French Bouvier, is transliterated from Βοώτης, which appeared in the Odyssey, so that our title has been in use for nearly 3000 years, perhaps for much longer; although doubtless at first applied only to its prominent star Arcturus. Degenerate forms of the word have been Bootis and Bootres.

It has been variously derived: some say from Βοῦς, Ox, and ὡθεῖν, to drive, and so the Wagoner, or Driver, of the Wain; Claudian writing [III Cons. Hon. 170]:

Boötes with the wain the north unfolds;

or the Ploughman of the Triones that, as Arator, occurs with Nigidius and Varro of the century before our era. But in recent times the figure has been p93imagined the Driver of Asterion and Chara in their pursuit of the Bear around the pole, thus alluded to by Carlyle in Sartor Resartus:

What thinks Boötes of them, as he leads his Hunting Dogs over the zenith in their leash of sidereal fire?

Others, and perhaps more correctly, thought the word Βοητής, Clamorous, transcribed as Boetes, from the shouts of the Driver to his Oxen, — the Triones, — or of the Hunter in pursuit of the Bear; Hevelius suggesting that the shouting was in encouragement of the Hounds. In translations of the Syntaxis this idea of a Shouter was shown by Vociferator, Vociferans, Clamans, Clamator, Plorans, the Loud Weeper, and even, perhaps, by Canis latrans, the Barking Dog, that Aben Ezra applied to its stars in the Hebrew words Kelebh hannabāh.

The Arabians rendered their similar conception of the figure by Al ‘Awwā’, — Chilmead's Alhava.

The not infrequent title Herdsman, from the French Bouvier, also is appropriate, for not only was he associated with the Oxen of the Wain, but in Arab days the near-by circumpolar stars were regarded as a Fold with its inmates and enemies.

Other names were Ἀρκτοφύλαξ and Ἀρκτοῦρος, the Bear-watcher and the Bear-guard, the latter first found in the Ἔργα καὶ Ἡμέραι, the Works and Days, "a Boeotian shepherd's calendar," by Hesiod, eight centuries before our era. But, although these words were often interchanged, the former generally was used for the constellation and the latter for its lucida, as in the Phainomena and by Geminos and Ptolemy. Still the poets did not always discriminate in this, the versifiers of Aratos confounding the titles notwithstanding the exactness of the original; although Cicero in one place [Phaen. Arat. 96] definitely wrote:

Arctophylax, vulgo qui dicitur esse Boötes.

Transliterated thus, — or Artophilaxe, — and as Arcturus, both names are seen for the constellation with writers and astronomers even to the 18th century; Chaucer having "ye sterres of Arctour." The scientific Isidorus [III.71.8‑9] knew it as Arcturus Minor, his Major being the Greater Bear.a Smyth derived this word from Ἄρκτου οὐρά, the Bear's Tail, as Boötes is near that part of Ursa Major; but this is not generally accepted — indeed is expressly condemned by the critic Buttmann.

Statius also called it Portitor Ursae; Vitruvius had Custos and Custos Arcti, the Bear-keeper; Ovid, Custos Erymanthidos Ursae; the Alfonsine p94Tables, Arcturi Custos; while the Bear-driver is often seen with early English writers.

Although Manilius knew it in connection with the Bear, he changed the simile when he wrote:

whose order'd Beams

Present a Figure driving of his Teams;

and Aratos long before had united the two thoughts and titles:

Behind and seeming to urge on the Bear,

Arctophylax, on earth Boötes named,

Sheds o'er the Arctic car his silver light.

Plaustri Custos, the Keeper of the Wain, was another name for it that altered the character of Boötes' duties; Ovid following in this with:

interque Triones

Flexerat obliquo plaustrum temone Bootes.

It has been Lycaon, the father, or grandfather, of Kallisto, when that nymph was identified with Ursa Major; as well as Arcas, her son; Ovid distinctly asserting in the 2d of the Fasti that Arctophylax in the skies was the earthly Arcas, although it is often wrongly supposed that the latter is represented by Ursa Minor; it was Septentrio, from its nearness to the north, so taking one of the Bear's titles; and Atlas, because, near to the pole, it sustained the world.

Hesychios, of about A.D. 370, called it Orion, but this seems unintelligible unless originating from a misunderstanding of Homer's lines, translated by Lord Derby:

Arctos call'd the Wain, who wheels on high

His circling course, and on Orion waits,

as if they were in close proximity. Or the title may come from some confusion with the Orus, or Horus, of the Egyptians, that was associated with both Orion and Boötes. La Lande alluded to this when he wrote:

Arctouros ou l'Orus voisin de l'Ourse, pour le distinguer de la constellation méridionale d'Orion ;

and, in considering this very different derivation of our word Arcturus, it should be remembered that Κάνδαος and Κανδάων were the titles also applied to Boötes, as the latter Greek word was to Orion by the Boeotians. It would be interesting to know more of this connection.

Philomelus is another designation, as if he were the son of the neighboring Virgo Ceres; and the early title Venator Ursae, the Hunter of the Bear, again p95appears as Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter before the Lord, with the biblical school of two or three centuries ago; although this was more usual for Orion.

Pastor, the Shepherd, presumably is from the Arabic idea of a Fold around the pole, or from the near-by flock in the Pasture towards the southeast, in our Hercules and Ophiuchus; or perhaps by some confusion with Cepheus, who also was a Shepherd with his Dog.

Pastinator is Hyde's rendering of a supposed Arabic title signifying a Digger or Trencher in a vineyard. A commentator on Aratos called it Τρυγετής, the Vintager, as its rising in the morning twilight coincided with the autumnal equinox and the time of the grape harvest; Cicero repeating this in his Protrygeter; but both of these names better belonged to the star Vindemiatrix, our ε Virginis.

Still its risings and settings were frequently observed and made much of in all classical days, and even beyond the Augustan age, although many, perhaps most, of these allusions were to its bright star. As a calendar sign it was first mentioned by Hesiod, thus translated by Thomas Cooke:

When in the rosy morn Arcturus shines,

Then pluck the clusters from the parent vines;

and again, but for a different season of the year:

When from the Tropic, or the winter's sun,

Thrice twenty days and nights their course have run;

And when Arcturus leaves the main, to rise

A star bright shining in the evening skies;

Then prune the vine.

Columella, Palladius, Pliny, Vergil, and others have similar references to Boötes, or to Arcturus, as indicating the proper seasons for various farm-work, as in the 1st Georgic:

Setting Boötes will afford the signs not obscure.

Icarus, or Icarius, also was a title for our constellation, from the unfortunate Athenian who brought so much trouble into the world by his practical expounding of Bacchus' ideas as to the proper use of the grape, and who was so unworthily exalted to the sky, with his daughter Erigone as Virgo, and their faithful hound Maera as Procyon or Sirius. From this story came the Icarii boves applied to the Triones by Propertius, and in the Andrews-Freund Lexicon to Boötes himself.

Ceginus, Seginus, and Chegninus, as well as the Cheguius of the Arabo-Latin Almagest, may have wandered here in strangely changed form from the neighboring Cepheus; although Buttmann asserted that they probably p96came, by long-repeated transcription and consequent errors, from Kheturus, the Arabian orthography for Arcturus. Bayer had Thegius, as usual without explanation; still I find in Riccioli's Almagestum Novum: Arabicē Theguius, quasi plorans aut vociferans; but Arabic scholars do not confirm this.

La Lande cited Custos Boum, the Keeper of the Oxen, and Bubulus, or Bubulcus, the Peasant Ox-driver, although Ideler denied that the latter ever was used for Boötes. Juvenal, however, had it, and Minsheu defined Boötes as Bubulcus coelestis. Landseer, following La Lande, said that the Herdsman was the national sign of ancient Egypt, the myth of the dismemberment of Osiris originating in the successive settings of its stars; and that there it was called Osiris, Bacchus, or Sabazius, the ancient name for Bacchus and Noah; and that Kircher's planisphere showed a Vine instead of the customary figure, thus recalling incidents in the histories of those worthies, as well as of Icarius.

Homer characterized the constellation as ὀψε δύων, late in setting, a thought and expression now become hackneyed by frequent repetition. Aratos had it:

he, when tired of day,

At even lingers more than half the night;

Manilius somewhat varying this by

Slow Boötes drives his ling'ring Teams;

Claudian, Juvenal, and Ovid, by tardus, slow, piger, sluggish, which their later countryman Ariosto, of the 16th century, repeated in his pigro Arturo; and Minsheu, in the 17th century, wrote of it as

Boötes, or the Carman, a slow moving starre, seated in the North Pole neere to Charles Waine, which it followes.

And all this because, as the figure sets in a perpendicular position, eight hours are consumed in its downward progress, and even then the hand of Boötes never disappears below the horizon — a fact more noticeable in early days than now. The reverse, however, takes place at its rising in a horizontal position; hence the ἀθρόος, "all at once", of Aratos.

Some say that these expressions of sluggishness are from its setting late in the season when the daylight is curtailed, or a reference to the natural gait of the Triones that Boötes is driving around the pole; while still others, more astronomically inclined, attributed them to his comparative nearness to

that point where slowest are the stars,

Even as a wheel the nearest to its axle,

that Dante wrote of in the Purgatorio.

p97 Boötes' association with the Mons Maenalus, on which he is sometimes shown, is unexplained unless by the suggestion found under that constellation heading. This association was current even in early days, if Landseer be correct where he says:

Eusebius, quoting an ancient oracle which has apparent reference to this constellation as formerly represented, writes —

A mystic goad the mountain herdsman bears.

Brown says that it was known in Assyria as Riu-but-same, "that reappears in Greek as Boötes"; and thus

the idea of the ox-driving Ploughman or Herdsman, as applied to the constellation, is Euphratean in character.

Among its Arabian derivatives are Nekkar, often considered as Al Naḳḳār, the Digger, or Tearer, analogous to the classic Trencher in the vineyard; but Ideler showed this to be an erroneous form of Al Baḳḳār, the Herdsman, found with Ibn Yunus (or Yunis).

Alkalurops, which appeared for Boötes in the Alfonsine Tables as Incalurus, is from Κᾶλᾶυροψ,º a herdsman's Crook or Staff, with the Arabic article prefixed; this now is our title for the star μ. The staff, ultimately figured as a Lance, gave rise to the name Al Rāmiḥ, which came into general use among the Arabians, but subsequently degenerated in early European astronomical works into Aramech, Ariamech, and like words for the constellation as well as for its great star.

The same figure is seen in Al Ḥāmil Luzz, the Spear-bearer, or, as Caesius had it, Al Kameluz, Riccioli's Kolanza, and the Azimeth Colanza of Reduan's translator, which Ideler compared to the Latin cum lancea and the Italian colla lancia. Similarly, Bayer said that on a Turkish map it was Ὀϊστοφόρος, the Arrow-bearer; and elsewhere Sagittifer and Lanceator.

Al Ḥāris al Samā’ of Arabic literature originally was for Arcturus, although eventually applied to the constellation. But long before these ideas were current in Arabia, that people are supposed to have had an enormous Lion, their early Asad, extending over a third of the heavens, of which the stars Arcturus and Spica were the shin-bones; Regulus, the forehead; the heads of Gemini, one of the fore paws; Canis Minor, the other; and Corvus, the hind quarters.

In Poland Boötes forms the Ogka, or Thills, of that country's much-extended Woz Niebeski, the Heavenly Wain; and in the Old Bohemian tongue it was Przyczck, as unintelligible as it is unpronounceable.

p98 The early Catholics knew it as Saint Sylvester; Caesius said that it might represent the prophet Amos, the Herdsman, or Shepherd Fig-dresser, of Tekoa; but Weigel turned it into the Three Swedish Crowns.

Proctor asserted that Boötes, when first formed, perhaps included even the Crown, as we know that it did the Hunting Dogs; and that, so constituted,

it exhibits better than most constellations the character assigned to it. One can readily picture to one's self the figure of a Herdsman with upraised arm driving the Greater Bear before him.

The drawing by Heis, after Dürer, is of a mature man, with herdsman's staff, holding the leash of the Hounds; but earlier representations are of a much younger figure: in all cases, however, well equipped with weapons of the chase, or implements of husbandry; the earliest form of these probably having been the winnowing fan of Bacchus.

The Venetian Hyginus of 1488 shows the Wheat Sheaf, Coma Berenices, at his feet; Argelander's Uranometria Nova has different figures on its two plates — one of the ancient form, the other of the modern holding the leash of the Hounds in full pursuit of the Bear.

This constellation and the Bear, Orion, the Hyades, Pleiades, and Dog were the only starry figures mentioned by Homer and Hesiod; the latter's versifier, Thomas Cooke, giving as a reason therefor — "the names of which naturally run into an hexameter verse"; but the general assumption that these great poets knew no other constellations does not seem reasonable, although it will be noticed that all those alluded to are identical with each author.

Boötes is a constellation of large extent, stretching from Draco to Virgo, nearly 50° in declination, and 30° in right ascension, and contains 85 naked-eye stars according to Argelander, 140 according to Heis.

Poises Arcturus aloft morning and evening his spear.

Emerson's translation of Hafiz' To the Shah.

α, 0.3, golden yellow.

Arcturus has been an object of the highest interest and admiration to all observant mankind from the earliest times, and doubtless was one of the first stars to be named; for from Hesiod's day to the present it thus appears throughout all literature, although often confounded with the Greater Bear. Indeed Hesiod's use of the word probably was for that constellation, except in two cases, already quoted, where he unquestionably referred to this star, mentioning its rising fifty days after the winter solstice, the first allusion that we have to that celestial point. And it is popularly supposed that p99our Arcturus is that of the Book of Job, xxxviii.32; but there it merely is one of the early titles Ursa Major, the Revised Version correctly rendering it "the Bear." Still, even now, the Standard Dictionary quotes for the star the Authorized Version's

Canst thou guide Arcturus with his son?

But, like other prominent stars, it shared its name with its constellation — in fact, probably at first, and as late as Pliny's day, was a constellation by itself. Homer's Βοώτης doubtless was this, with, possibly, a few of its larger companions; and Bayer cited Bootes for the star; but in recent times the latter has monopolized the present title.

It was famous with the seamen of early days, even from the traditional period of the Arcadian Evander, and regulated their annual festival by its movements in relation to the sun. But its influence always was dreaded, as is seen in Aratos' δεινοῦ Ἀρκτοῦροιο and Pliny's horridum sidus; while Demosthenes, in his action against Lacritus 341 B.C., tells us of a bottomry bond, made in Athens on a vessel going to the river Borysthenes — the modern Dnieper — and to the Tauric Chersonese — the Crimea — and back, that stipulated for a rate of 22½ per cent interest if she arrived within the Bosporus "before Arcturus," i.e. before its heliacal1 rising about mid-September; after which it was to be 30 per cent. Its acronycal2 rising fixed the date of the husbandmen's Lustratio frugum; and Vergil twice made allusion in his 1st Georgic to its character as unfavorably affecting the farmers' work. Other contemporaneous authors confirmed this stormy reputation, while all classical calendars3 gave the dates of its rising and settings.

Hippocrates, 460 B.C., made much of the influence of Arcturus on the human body, in one instance claiming that a dry season, after its rising,

agrees best with those who are naturally phlegmatic, with those who are of a humid temperament, and with women; but it is most inimical to the bilious;

and that

diseases are especially apt to prove critical in these days.

p100 The Prologue of the Rudens of Plautus, delivered by Arcturus in person, and "one of the early opinions of the presence of invisible agents amongst mankind," declares of himself that he is considered a stormy sign at the times of his rising and setting, — as the original has it:

Arcturus signum, sum omnium quam acerrimum.

Vehemens sum, cum exorior, cum occido vehementior.

And the passage from Horace's Odes —

Nec saevus Arcturi cadentis

Impetus aut orientis Haedi —

is familiar to all. This same idea came down to modern days, for Pope repeated it in his verse,

When moist Arcturus clouds the sky.

Astrologically, however, the star brought riches and honor to those born under it.

An Egyptian astronomical calendar of the 15th century before Christ, deciphered by Renouf, associates it with the star Antares in the immense sky figure Menat; and Lockyer claims it as one of the objects of worship in Nile temples, as it was in the temple of Venus at Ancona in Italy.

In India it was the 13th nakshatra, Svati, "the Good Goer", or perhaps Sword, but figured as a Coral Bead, Gem, or Pearl; and known there also as Nishṭya, Outcast, possibly from its remote northern situation far outside of the zodiac, whence, from its brilliancy, it was taken to complete the series of Hindu asterisms. Hewitt thinks that it, or Capella, was the Āryamān of the Rig Veda; and Edkins that it was the Tistar usually assigned to Sirius.

The Chinese called it Ta Kiō, the Great Horn, four small stars near by being Kang Che, the Drought Lake; Edkins further writing of it:

Arcturus is the palace of the emperor. the two groups of three small stars on its right [ητυ] and left [ζοπ] are called She ti, the Leaders, because they assign a fixed direction of that tail of the Bear, which, as it revolves, points out the twelve hours of the horizon.

The Arabs knew Arcturus as Al Simāk4 al Rāmiḥ, sometimes translated the Leg of the Lance-bearer, and again, perhaps more correctly, the Lofty p101Lance-bearer. From the Arabic title came various degenerate forms: Al Ramec, Aramec, Aremeah, Ascimec, Azimech, and Azimeth, found in those queer compendiums of stellar nomenclature the Alfonsine Tables and the Almagest of 1515; Somech haramach of Chilmead's Treatise; and Aramākh, which Karsten Niebuhr heard from the Arabs 136 years ago. The Kheturus of their predecessors, already alluded to under Boötes, also was used for this.

The idea of a weapon again as a manifested itself in Κονταράτος, Javelin-bearer, of the Graeco-Persian Tables; while Bayer had Gladius, Kolanza, and Pugio, all applied to Arcturus, which probably marked in some early drawing the Sword, Lance, or Dagger in the Hunter's hand. Similarly it took the title Alkameluz of the whole constellation.

Al Ḥāris al Samā, the Keeper of Heaven, perhaps came from the star's early visibility in the twilight owing to its great northern declination, as though on the lookout for the safety and proper deportment of his lesser stellar companions, and so "Patriarch Mentor of the Train." This subsequently became Al Ḥāris al Simāk, the Keeper of Simāk, probably referring to Spica, the Unarmed One.

Al Bīrūnī mentioned Arcturus as the Second Calf of the Lion, the early Asad; Spica being the First Calf.

It has been identified with the Chaldaeans' Papsukal, the Guardian Messenger, the divinity of their 10th month Tibitu; while Smith and Sayce have said that on the Euphrates it was the Shepherd of the Heavenly Flock, or the Shepherd of the Life of Heaven, undoubtedly the Sib-zi‑anna of the inscriptions; the star η being often included in this, and thus making one of the several pairs of Euphratean Twin Stars.

The 1515 Almagest and the Alfonsine Tables of 1521 add to their list of strange titles et nominatur Audiens, which seems unintelligible unless the word be a misprint for Audens, the Bold One.

John de Wiclif, in his translation of Amos v.8, in 1383, had it Arture, which he took from the Vulgate's Arcturus for Ursa Major; but John of Trevisa in 1398 more correctly wrote:

Arthurus is a signe made of VII starres, . . . but properly Arthurus is a sterre sette behynde the tayle of the synge that hyght Vrsa maior.

With others it was Arturis and Ariture, or the Carlwaynesterre from the early confusion in applying the title Arcturus to Charles' Wain as well as to Boötes and its lucida.

Prominent as this star always has been, and one of the few to which Ptolemy assigned a name, yet its position has greatly varied in the drawings; p102indeed in the earliest it was located outside of the figure and so described in the Syntaxis. It has been put on the breast; in the girdle, whence, perhaps, came Bayer's Arctuzona; on the leg; between the knees — Robert Recorde, the first English writer on astronomy, in 1556 mentioning in the Castle of Knowledge the "very bryghte starre called Arcturus, which standeth between Boötes his legges"; and, as some of its titles denote, on the weapon in the hand. But since Dürer's time it has usually marked the fringe of the tunic.

Smyth asserted that this is the first star on record as having been observed in the daytime with the telescope, as it was in 1635 by Morin, and subsequently, in July, 1669, by Gautier and the Abbé Picard, the sun having an elevation of 17°. Schmidt has seen it with the naked eye twenty-four minutes before sunset. While these instances serve to show its brilliancy, yet this was still more evinced when, enveloped in the Donati comet of 1858, and on the 5th of October, only 20′ from the nucleus, "it flashed out so vividly in superiority," visible for many hours. And it is somewhat remarkable that this same thing was seen 240 years before in the case of the comet of 1618; at least such is the record of John Bainbridge, "Doctor of Physicke," who wrote:

The 27th of November, in the morning, the comet's hair was spread over the faire starre Arcturus, betwixt the thighs of Arctophylax, or Bootes.

It is interesting to know that the first photograph of a comet was of Donati's, near this star, on the 28th of September, 1858.

Ptolemy specified its color as ὑποκιῤῥος, rendered rutilus, "golden red," in the 1551 Almagest; but Schmidt observed, on the 21st of March, 1852, that the star had lost its usual tinge, which it did not regain for several years. This phenomenon was confirmed by Argelander and by Kaiser of Leyden; but generally it has "figured immemorially in the short list of visibly fiery objects." Its rich color, in contrast with the white of Spica, the deeper red of Antares, and the sapphire of Wega, is very noticeable when all can be taken in together, at almost a single glance, on a mid-summer evening.

The Germans know it as Arctur; the Italians and Spanish, as Arturo.

Schiller wrote in the Death of Wallenstein:

Not every one doth it become to question

The far off high Arcturus;

but Elkin did so in 1892, his observations resulting in a parallax of 0ʺ.016, p103i.e. insensible, the probable error being much greater than the measured parallax itself.

The star has a large proper motion,5 given as 2ʺ.3 annually, which probably has shifted its position southwestward on the face of the sky by somewhat more than 1° since the time of Ptolemy; and great velocity in the line of sight was assigned to it by the earlier spectroscopists, even as high as seventy miles a second; but the later and accordant determinations, at Potsdam by Vogel and at the Lick Observatory by Keeler, reduce this to between 4 and 4¾ miles.

Its spectrum is Solar, of Secchi's second type, but with a remarkable mass of dark lines in the violet.

Arcturus culminates on the 8th of June.

β, 3.6, golden yellow.

Nakkar and Nekkar are from the Arabic name for the whole constellation.

The Chinese knew it as Chaou Yaou, or Teaou, words meaning "to beckon, excite, or move."

With γ, δ, and μ, it constituted the trapezium Al Dhi᾽bah, The Female Wolves, or, perhaps, Hyaenas, an early asterism of the Arabs before they adopted the Greek constellation; these animals, with others similar shown by stars in Draco and near it, lying in wait for the occupants of the ancient Fold around the pole.

β marks the head of the modern figure.

γ, 3.1.

Seginus appears on Burritt's Atlas from the Ceginus of the constellation.

Manilius termed it prona Lycaonia, "sloping downwards, or in front of, Lycaon," referring to the Greater Bear, as the star marks the left shoulder of Boötes near to that constellation; and Euripides similarly wrote in his Ἴων of about 420 B.C.:

Above, Arcturus to the golden pole inclines.

Flammarion gives to it the Alkalurops that is better recognized for μ. The Chinese called it Heuen Ko, the Heavenly Spear.

It is interesting to know that the variable ν is in the telescopic field with γ.

p104 δ, 3,5, pale yellow.

This star does not appear to be named, but in China was part of Tseih Kung, the Seven Princes; the other components being μ, ν, φ, ψ, χ1 and χ2, or b, in the right hand and on the Club, 20° northeast of Arcturus.

ε, Binary, 3 and 6, pale orange and bluish green,

lying 10° northeast of Arcturus, bore these titles in Arabia: Al Minṭakah al ʽAwwā᾽, the Belt of the Shouter; Izār, the Girdle; and Mi᾽zar, the Waist-cloth, — all references to its place in the figure. This last word was turned by early European astronomical writers into Micar, Mirar, Merer, Meirer, Mezen, Mezer, Merak, and Mirak, similar to the title of β Andromedae, and all appropriate. The analogous Perizoma was used for it in the Alfonsine Tables.

Why it was so favored in nomenclature is not known, for with us it is noticeable only from its exquisite beauty in the telescope, whence it is fast monopolizing the name Pulcherrima, given to it by the elder Struve.

The components can be seen with a 2¼‑inch glass, about 3ʺ apart, at a position angle of 325°. The period of their revolution is as yet undetermined, but they are thought to be approaching us at the rate of ten miles a second.

This pair was the chief object of Sir William Herschel's investigations for stellar parallax about 1782, in which, of course, he was unsuccessful, although he did not know the cause of his failure till years thereafter, when he recognized its binary character.

ζξο, and π were Tso She Ti, an Officer, in China, on the left hand of the emperor.

η, 2.8, pale yellow.

Muphrid, Mufrid, and Mufride, of the Palermo and other catalogues, is from Ulug Beg's Al Mufrid al Rāmiḥ, the Solitary Star of the Lancer, and inexplicable unless on the supposition that it formerly was regarded as outside of the figure lines. Kazwini called it Al Rumḥ; and Al Tizini, with Al Naṣr al Din, more definitely, Al Rumḥ al Rāmiḥ, the Lance of the Lance-bearer, although inappropriately, for they designated its position as on Al Sāḳ, the Shin-bone, and it thus appears as Saak in some lists; but as the figure is now drawn η lies above the left knee.

It seems to have been included with Arcturus in the Euphratean Sib-zi‑anna.

p105 With υ and τ in the feet, it was Yew She ti in China, the Officer standing on the right hand of the emperor.

θ, 4.1; ι, Triple, 4.4, 4.5, and 8; and κ, Double, 4.5 and 6.6.

Bayer called these Asellusprimus, secundus and tertius respectively, — although without explanation; but the title is well known for each of the two stars in Cancer flanking Praesaepe. They mark the finger-tips of the upraised left hand just eastward from Alkaid, the last star in the Greater Bear's tail.

In China they were Tseen Tsang, the Heavenly Lance.

The members of the larger component of ι are 0ʺ.8 apart; the smaller is 38ʺ away.

κ is pale white, and the two stars are about 12ʺ apart, making it an easy object in a small telescope.

All of these, with the 4th‑magnitude λ on the lower part of the left arm, were Al Aulād al Dhi᾽bah, the Whelps of the Hyaenas, shown by βγδ, and μ, and so given on the earliest Arabic maps and globes.

μ1, Ternary, 4.2, 8, and 8.5, flushed white, the last two greenish white,

the small companion μ2 being a close double.

Alkalurops was the Arabian adaptation of Κᾶλᾶυροψ,º used by Hesychios for the Herdsman's Club, Crook, or Staff, analogous to the Ῥόπαλον of Hyginus and the Clava of the Latins.

Inkalunis appears in some of the Alfonsine Tables; Icalurus in those of 1521, and Incalurus in the 1515 Almagest, all long supposed to be bungled renderings of Ptolemy's Κολλορόβος, itself probably a word of his own coining to designate the position of the star in the club; Riccioli writing it Colorrhobus. But Ideler, rejecting this, thought Schickard more correct in deriving these words from ἐν κολούρῳ,º "in the colure," a statement that was nearly right as to Arcturus 2000 years ago; the name since then having, in some way, been transferred to this star, as also to the constellation. The editor of the 1515 Almagest added to his title for μ et est hastile habens canes, which, Ideler said, — and Homer is for once caught nodding, — "is with reference to the surrounding hyaenas." This most erroneous explanation is corrected by the late Professor C. H. F. Peters of the Hamilton Observatory, whose private copy of this rare edition is now in my possession, in his autographic annotation that the original Arabic should have been rendered ferrum curvatum instead of canes. Some Latin writers have called this star Venabulum, a Hunting-spear.

p106 ρ and σ, 4th- and 5th‑magnitude stars, were Kang Ho, a river in China; and ψ, according to Assemani, with another in the right arm that may have been ε, constituted the Arabs' Al Aulād al Nadhlāt, which he rendered Filii altercationis; but the original signifies the Low, or Mean, Little Ones.

h, or Fl. 38, a 5½‑magnitude hardly visible to the naked eye, is Merga, and marks the Reaping-hook held in the left hand of the figure. This word is from Marra, a Hoe, or Rake, used by Columella and Juvenal, and still is sometimes seen as Marrha for the star. The latter was well known to Pliny as Falx Italica.


The Author's Notes:

1 This was its first perceptible appearance in the dawn after emergence from the sun, then about 10° or 12° away.

2 The latest rising visible at sunset.

3 Copies of these calendars, called Παράπηγματα, engraved on stone or brass, were conspicuously exposed in the market-places, and two are supposed to have come down to us, — that of Geminos, 77 B.C., and of Ptolemy, A.D. 140. While these probably in the main were accurate, the allusions to their subjects by the poets and authors generally seem to be as often wrong as right, being based upon observations taken on trust from earlier writers, or from tradition, although by various causes, and especially by the effect of precession, they had become incorrect. Hesiod's statement, in the Works and Days, of the heliacal rising of Arcturus is regarded as fixing his own date in history at about 800 B.C.

4 This word Simāk is of disputed signification. It is from a root meaning "to raise on high," and is thought to have been employed by the Arabs when they wished to indicate any prominent object high up in the heavens, but with special reference to this star and to the other Simāk, Spica of the Virgin.

5 This proper motion of some of the stars, i.e. the angular motion across the line of sight, was first detected by Halley, in 1718, from examination of modern observations, especially those of Tycho, on Arcturus, Aldebaran, and Sirius, in comparison with the ancient records.


Thayer's Note:

a A misunderstanding of Isidore, or a translation based on a faulty manuscript reading; here's the passage as literally translated as I can manage it, based on the linked text:

Arctophylax is so called because it follows Arctos, that is Helicê the Bear. They also called it Boötes, because it clings to the cart: it is a constellation [highly] visible for its many stars, among which is Arcturus. Arcturus is the star after the tail of the great bear; [it is] situated in the constellation Boötes.


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