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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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 p413  Taurus Poniatovii, Poniatowski's Bull,

the Taurus Regalis of Houzeau, is the Taureau Royal of the French; Toro di Poniatowski of the Italians; Poniatowsky's Stier of the Germans; and, on the Stieler Planisphere, Poln Stier, the Polish Bull.

It was made up from unformed stars of Ophiuchus, Smyth writes,

in 1777 by the Abbé Poczobut, of Wilna, in honour of Stanislaus Poniatowski, King of Poland; a formal permission to that effect having been obtained from the French Academy. It is between the shoulder of Ophiuchus and the Eagle, where some stars form the letter V, and from a fancied resemblance to the zodiac-bull and the Hyades, became another Taurus. Poczobut was content with seven component stars, but Bode has scraped together no fewer than eighty, —

of course chiefly telescopic, for only 20 to 25 are visible to the unaided eye; but as a distinct constellation it is not generally recognized by astronomers, and its stars have been returned to Ophiuchus.

We have no individual names for any of these, but sundry small ones in the head were the Chinese Tsung Ting, or Tsung Jin, a Relative.

A century and a half before Poczobut's time these stars, with those of our Vulpecula, had been introduced by Bartsch into his plates as the River Tigris, although this probably had previously been a recognized constellation. Its course was from β and γ, in the right shoulder of Ophiuchus, onwards between Aquila and the left hand of Hercules; thence between Albireo (β Cygni) and Sagitta to Equuleus and the front parts of Pegasus, ending at the latter's neck. This Tigris continued until as late as 1679 with Royer, but has long since disappeared from the maps, and indeed from the memory of most observers; while the Royal Bull itself seems to be lapsing into similar obscurity.

Three or four centuries before all this the Arabian engraver of the Borgian globe appropriately represented the stars of this constellation by a triangular figure.

It comes to the meridian on the 10th of August.

Although it has no named star, its "70 Ophiuchi," the middle one in the eastern leg of the V, is a celebrated binary, with a period of about ninety  p414 years, the components 2″ apart, at a position angle, in the year 1897, of 276°.58. A third invisible companion is suspected.

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Page updated: 25 Dec 07