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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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 p417  Tucana, the Toucan,

was published by Bayer under our English name,​1 but some one has Latinized it in ornithologists' style as we now see it. Burritt had Toucana and  p418 Touchan; the French, Toucan; the Italians, Toucano;º and the Germans, Tukan. The Chinese translated the original word, given to them by the Jesuits, as Neaou Chuy, the Beak Bird, very appropriate to a creature that is almost all beak.

In the 17th century the English called it the Brasilian Pye, but Caesius gave it the geographically incorrect Pica Indica; while Kepler, Riccioli, and even later authors knew it as the Anser Americanus, a title that appears as late as Stieler's planisphere of 1872, in the American Gans.

Tucana lies immediately south of Phoenix, bordering on the south polar Octans, its tail close to the bright Achernar of Eridanus, and marks the crossing of the equinoctial colure and the antarctic circle.

Gould assigned to it 81 naked-eye stars, from 2.8 to the 7th magnitudes.

The 4th‑magnitude γ is very blue, and the 5½ ν, strongly red; but its most notable object is Bode's cluster 47, NGC 104. This celebrated "ball of suns" has been lettered ξ by Gould, as it shines like a hazy 4½‑magnitude star. Bailey counted, within 660″ of its centre, 2235 stars, and among them six variables. The cluster seems to be completely insulated with regard to the surrounding stars.

The Author's Note:

1 Professor Alfred Newton says that the avian word may be from the Guaranis' , Nose and Cāng, Bone; and that it first was mentioned in print by Trevétº in 1558 as from that Brazilian Indian tribe. It is the Rhamphastos toco of the naturalists.

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Page updated: 4 Mar 14