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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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p251 Lacerta, the Lizard,

is the French Lézard, the Italian Lucertola, and the German Eidechse, — Bode's Eidexe, — extending from the head of Cepheus to the star π at the left foot of Pegasus, its northern half lying in the Milky Way.

This inconspicuous constellation was formed by Hevelius from outlying stars between Cygnus and Andromeda, this special figure having been selected because there was not space for any of a different shape. But he drew "a strange weasel-built creature with a curly tail," heading the procession of his offerings to Urania illustrated in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum of 1687. Flamsteed's picture is more like a greyhound, but equally uncouth; that by Heis is typically correct.

Its inventor gave it the alternative title of Stellio, the Stellion, a newt with star-like dorsal spots found along the Mediterranean coast. Somewhat coincidently its stars, with those in the eastern portion of Cygnus, were combined by the early Chinese in their Flying Serpent.

Hevelius catalogued 10 components; Argelander, 31; and Heis, 48. They come to the meridian about the middle of April. It has no named star, and its lucidaα, is only of 3.9 magnitude.

β, 4.5, marks the radiant point of the Lacertids, a minor meteor stream visible through August and September.

Before the Lizard was formed, Royer introduced here, in 1679, the

Sceptre and Hand of Justice,

commemorating his king, Louis XIV; and a century later Bode substituted the Frederici Honores, in honor of his sovereign Frederick the Great; but Lacerta has held its place, while Royer's figure has been entirely forgotten, and Bode's nearly so.

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Page updated: 16 Dec 07