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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  Musca Borealis, the Northern Fly,

the small group of 3½‑to 5th‑magnitude stars over the back of the Ram, is the Italian Mosca, the French Mouche, and the German Fliege.

Houzeau attributed its formation to Habrecht, but others to Bartschius, who called it Vespa, the Wasp, although also Apis, the Bee; and, still further changing the figure, wrote that it represented Beel-zebul, the god of flies, the Phoenician Baal-zebub; this insect being the ideograph of that heathen divinity, varied at times by the Scarabaeus. La Lande's Apes probably is a typographical error. To whom we owe its present title I cannot learn; but it is thus given in the Flamsteed Atlas of 1781.

The constellation has been retained in some popular astronomical works, although not figured by the scientific Argelander, Heis, nor Klein, nor recognized in the British Association Catalogue.

Ptolemy included its stars in the five ἀμόρφωτοι of his Κριός, the Ram.

Its chief components, Fl. 41, 33, 35, and 39 of Aries, were common to the 28th nakshatra, Barani, Bearer, or Apha Barani, — Yama, the ruler of the spirit world, being the presiding divinity; Fl. 35 being the junction star towards the nakshatra Krittikā. They also formed the sieu Oei or Wei, anciently Vij; and the manzil Buṭain. But as these Chinese and Arabic titles, signifying Belly, i.e. of the Ram, do not coincide with the present location of the stars, we may infer a change from the earlier drawings of Aries. Al Tizini's Nā᾽ir al Buṭain,º the Bright One of the Little Belly, probably was 41, a 3.6‑magnitude. These same stars, μ being added, were the Persian lunar station Pish Parvis, the Sogdian Barv, the Khorasmian Farrankhand, the Forerunners, and the Coptic Koleōn, the Belly, or Scabbard. Flamsteed's 41, 35, and 39 formed another of the Arabs' Athāfiyy.

Musca comes to the meridian on the 17th of December.

Instead of the Fly, Royer figured here, in 1679, the Lily, le Lis or la Fleur de Lis, with the French coat of arms, but this has entirely passed out of the books and maps.

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Page updated: 30 Sep 07