Sunday, 18 December 2016

Of the stars...

Obsolete constellations
Non-astronomers are often puzzled by the concept of a disused constellation – surely, a constellation is either there or it isn’t. However, the patterns we see in the stars are purely a product of human imagination, so humans are free to amend the patterns as they choose – and astronomers did so at will during the heyday of celestial mapping in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Former constellations are constellations that are no longer recognised by the International Astronomical Union for various reasons. HERE

Ophiuchus is a large constellation located around the celestial equator. Its name is from the Greek Ὀφιοῦχος "serpent-bearer", and it is commonly represented as a man grasping the snake that is represented by the constellation Serpens. Ophiuchus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. It was formerly referred to as Serpentarius and Anguitenens. More HERE
Ophiuchus is located between Aquila, Serpens and Hercules, north-west of the centre of the Milky Way. In the northern hemisphere, it is best visible in summer. It is located opposite Orion in the sky. Ophiuchus is depicted as a man grasping a serpent; the interposition of his body divides the snake constellation Serpens into two parts, Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, which are nonetheless counted as one constellation.

There is no evidence of the constellation preceding the classical era, and in Babylonian astronomy, a "Sitting Gods" constellation seems to have been located in the general area of Ophiuchus. However, Gavin White proposes that Ophiuchus may in fact, be remotely descended from this Babylonian constellation, representing Nirah, a serpent-god who was sometimes depicted with his upper half human but with serpents for legs.

The brightest stars in Ophiuchus include α Ophiuchi, called Rasalhague ("head of the serpent charmer"), at magnitude 2.07, and η Ophiuchi, known as Sabik ("the preceding one"), at magnitude 2.43. Other bright stars in the constellation include β Ophiuchi, Cebalrai ("dog of the shepherd") and λ Ophiuchi, or Marfik ("the elbow").

 Barnard's Star, one of the nearest stars to the Solar System (the only stars closer are the Alpha Centauri binary star system and Proxima Centauri), lies in Ophiuchus. It is located to the left of β and just north of the V-shaped group of stars in an area that was once occupied by the now-obsolete constellation of Taurus Poniatovii (Poniatowski's Bull).

Taurus Poniatovii (Latin for Poniatowski's bull) was a constellation created by Marcin Odlanicki Poczobutt in 1777 to honor Stanislaus Poniatowski, king of Poland. It consisted of stars that are today considered part of Ophiuchus and Aquila. It is no longer in use. It was wedged in between Ophiuchus, Aquila and Serpens Cauda.

The stars were picked for the resemblance of their arrangement to the Hyades group which form the "head" of Taurus. Before the definition of Taurus Poniatovii, some of these had been part of the obsolete constellation River Tigris.

River Tigris or Tigris (named after the Tigris river) was a constellation, introduced in 1612 (or 1613) by Petrus Plancius. One end was near the shoulder of Ophiuchus and the other was near Pegasus, and in between it passed through the area now occupied by Vulpecula, flowing between Cygnus and Aquila. It did not appear on Johann Bode's atlases and was quickly forgotten.

 In 2005, astronomers using data from the Green Bank Telescope discovered a superbubble so large that it extends beyond the plane of the galaxy. It is called the Ophiuchus Superbubble.
Urania (Ancient Greek: Οὐρανία, Ourania; meaning "heavenly" or "of heaven"), also spelt Ourania, was, in Greek mythology, the muse of astronomy and a daughter of Zeus by Mnemosyne and also a great granddaughter of Uranus. Eldest of the divine sisters, Urania inherited Zeus' majesty and power and the beauty and grace of her mother Mnemosyne.

Urania dresses in a cloak embroidered with stars and keeps her eyes and attention focused on the Heavens. She is usually represented with a celestial globe to which she points with a little staff. She is able to foretell the future by the arrangement of the stars.
Griepenkerl, Venus Urania
Urania, o'er her star-bespangled lyre,
With touch of majesty diffused her soul;
A thousand tones, that in the breast inspire,
Exalted feelings, o er the wires'gan roll—
How at the call of Jove the mist unfurled,
And o'er the swelling vault—the glowing sky,
The new-born stars hung out their lamps on high,
And rolled their mighty orbs to music's sweetest sound.
—From An Ode To Music by James G. Percival

During the Renaissance, Urania began to be considered the Muse for Christian poets. In the invocation to Book 7 of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost, the poet invokes Urania to aid his narration of the creation of the cosmos, though he cautions that it is "[t]he meaning, not the name I call" (7.5)
Urania Cottage was a refuge for fallen women established by the writer Charles Dickens in Lime Grove, Shepherd’s Bush, London in the late 1840s. 
Bacchylides, Fragment 3 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric IV) (C5th B.C.):
"[The poet] has his share in the violet-haired Mousai (Muses).The light of man's excellence, however, does not diminish with his body; no, the Mousa (Muse) fosters it. And the sweet-voiced cock [the poet] of lyre-ruling Ourania (Urania)."
Aratus Solensis, 1600, Hug. Grotii Syntagma Arateorum. Ophiuchus, Serpens, Scorpius.
Isis Urania 
Sidney Hall Urania's Mirror Monoceros Canis Minor and Atelier Typographique
Love and light,

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