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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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 p292  Norma et Regula, the Level and Square,

originally was composed of some unformed stars of Ara and Lupus, within the branches of the Milky Way, just north of Apus; but later it became the Southern Triangle of Theodor and Bayer. According to Ideler, it was altered by La Caille to its present form, and associated with a Pair of Compasses, the constellation Circinus, next to it on the north, adjoining the fore feet of the Centaur. Modern astronomers, however, call it simply Norma, and locate it as an entirely distinct constellation to the north of and adjoining the Triangle.

It is sometimes given as Quadra Euclidis, Euclid's Square, not Quadrant as it often is incorrectly translated.

The French edition of Flamsteed's Atlas of 1776 has it as Niveau, the Level; and Houzeau cites Libella of the same meaning; but in France it now is l'Équerre et la Règle; in Italy, Riga e Squadra; and in Germany, Lineal or Winkelmass.

Norma contains 64 naked-eye stars, from 4.6 to 7th magnitudes, but none seem to be named. They culminate about the 4th of July, their northern limit 15° south from the star Antares, and so are visible only in low latitudes.

La Caille's α Normae lies within the present limits of our Scorpio.

In Norma appeared in 1893 a 7th‑magnitude nova detected by Mrs. Margaret Fleming on a photograph taken on the 1st of July at the Harvard Observatory's station near Arequipa, although it never was visually observed. Special interest attaches to it from the identity of its spectrum with that of the nova Aurigae of the preceding year, the first two of their kind discovered.

The appearance of two new stars at such a short interval is also noticeable, as Miss Clerke says that only about eighteen had been recorded since the days of Hipparchos; Professor Young reducing this to eleven as certainly known down to 1892; but observers have greatly increased in recent years, the heavens are better known than formerly, and the camera  p294 shows what the eye, aided even by the best telescope, cannot, — all factors in the problem of the detection of these strangers. The photographs retain impressions of thousands of stars, while the visual observer practically is limited to a few hundred.

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Page updated: 23 Dec 07