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Virgil, also, in the 10th book of his Æneid, alludes to the same fable:--
And sung his loss in poplar groves alone,
Of all the feathered race, there is no bird, perhaps, which makes so beautiful and majestic an appearance as the swan. Almost every poet of eminence has taken notice of it. The swan has, probably, in all ages, and in every country where taste and elegance have been cultivated, been considered as the emblem of poetical dignity, purity, and ease. By the ancients it was consecrated to Apollo and the Muses; they also entertained a notion that this bird foretold its own end, and sang more sweetly at the approach of death.
"She, like the swan
Expiring, dies in melody."-Eschylus.
"So on the silver stream, when death is nigh,
The mournful swan sings its own elegy."Ovid, Tristia.
THE GOAT. This is the tenth sign, and eleventh constellation, in the order of the Zodiac, and is situated south of the Dolphin, and next east of Sagittarius. Its mean declination is 20° south, and its mean right ascension, 310°. It is therefore on the meridian about the 18th of September. It is to be observed that the first point of the sign Capricorn, not the constellation, marks the southern tropic, or winter solstice. The sun, therefore, arrives at this point of its orbit the 21st of December, but does not reach the constellation Capricorn until the 16th of January.
The sun, having now attained its utmost declination south, after remaining a few days apparently stationary, begins once more to retrace its progress northwardly, affording to the wintry latitudes of the north, a grateful presage of returning spring.
At the period of the winter solstice, the sun is vertical to the tropic of Capricorn, and the southern hemisphere enjoys the same light and heat which the northern hemisphere enjoys on the 21st of June, when the sun is vertical to the tropic of Cancer. It is, at this period, mid-day at the south pole, and midnight at the north pole.
The whole number of stars in this constellation is fiftyone; none of which are very conspicuous. The three largest are only of the 3d. magnitude. There is an equal number of the 4th.
Where is Capricornus situated? What are its mean right ascension and declination? When is the main body of the constellation on the meridian? When does the sun enter the sign, and when the constellation Capricorn? Does the sun ever extend beyond this point into the southern hemisphere? What is the position of the sun with respect to the tropic of Capricorn, at the winter solstice, and what are the seasons in the two hemispheres? What are the number and magnitude of the stars in this constellation?
The head of Capricorn may be recognised by means of two stars of the 3d magnitude, situated a little more than 20 apart, called Giedi and Dabih. They are 28° from the Dolphin, in a southerly direction.
Giedi is the most northern star of the two, and is double. If a line be drawn from Lyra through Altair, and produced about 23° farther, it will point out the head of Capricorn. These two stars come to the meridian the 9th of September, a few minutes after Sad'r, in Cygni.
A few other stars, of inferior note may be traced out by reference to the maps.
The sign of the Goat was called by the ancient orientalists the "Southern gate of the Sun," as Cancer was denominated the "Northern gate." The ten stars in the sign Capricorn, known to the ancients by the name of the "Tower of Gad," are probably now in the constellation Aquarius.
HISTORY.-Capricornus is said to be Pan, or Bacchus, who, with some other deities were feasting near the banks of the Nile, when suddenly the dreadful giant Typhon came upon them, and compelled them all to assume a different shape, in order to escape his fury. Ovid relates,
"How Typhon, from the conquer'd skies, pursued
Whose hue was whiter than the falling snow
While Venus from a fish protection craves,
And once more plunges in her native waves."
On this occasion it is further related that Bacchus, or Pan, led the way and plunged into the Nile, and that the part of his body which was under the water, assumed the form of a fish, and the other part that of a goat; and that to preserve the memory of this frolic, Jupiter made him into a constellation, in his metamorphosed shape.
Some say that this constellation was the goat Amalthea, who supported the infant Jupiter with her milk. To reward her kindness, the father of the gods placed her among the constellations, and gave one of her horns to the nyn phs who had taken care of him in his infantile years. This gift was ever after called the horn of plenty; as it possessed the virtue of imparting to the holder whatever she desired.*
The real sense of this fable, divested of poetical embellishment, appears to be this; that in Crete, some say in Lybia, there was a small territory shaped very much like a bullock's horn, and exceedingly fertile, which the king presented to his daughter Amalthea, whom the poets feigned to have been Jupiter's nurse. "The bounteous Pan," as he is styled by Milton, was the god of rural scenery, shepherds, and huntsmen. Virgil thus addresses him :
* On this account the Latin term Cornucopia, denotes plenty, or abundance of good things. The word Amalthea, when used figuratively, has also the same meaning.
How may it be recognised? How are Gledi and Dabih situated with respect to the Dolphin? How are these two stars distinguished from each other, and what is their position in respect to the Eagle? When are they on our meridian? What were the signs Capricorn and Cancer originally called? Where are the ten stars, known to the ancients by the name of the "Tower of Gad," now to be found?
'And thou, the shepherd's tultelary god,
Leave, for a while, O Pan! thy loved abode."*
The name of Pan is derived from a Greek word signifying all things; and he was often considered as the great principle of vegetable and animal life. He resided chiefly in Arcadia, in woods and the most rugged mountains. As Pan usually terrified the inhabitants of the adjacent country, even when he was nowhere to be seen, that kind of fear which often seizes men, and which is only ideal or imaginary, has received from him the name of Panic.
DIRECTIONS FOR TRACING THE CONSTELLATIONS WHICH ARE ON THE MERIDIAN IN OCTOBER.
THE FLYING HORSE. This constellation is represented in an inverted posture, with wings. It occupies a large space in the heavens, between the Swan, the Dolphin and the Eagle, on the west, and the Northern Fish and Andromeda, on the east. Its mean right ascension is 340°, or it is situated 20° W. of the prime meridian. It extends from the equinoctial N. 35°. Íts mean length E. and W. is about 40°, and it is six weeks in passing our meridian, viz. from the 1st of October to the 10th of November.
We see but a part of Pegasus, the rest of the animal, being, as the poets imagined, hid in the clouds.
It is readily distinguished from all other constellations by means of four remarkable stars, about 15° apart, forming the figure of a square, called the square of Pegasus. The two western stars in this square come to the meridian about the 23d of October, and are 13° apart. The northern one, which is the brightest of three triangular stars in the martingale, is of the 2d magnitude, and is called Scheat. Its declination is 263° N. Markab, also of the 2d magnitude, situated in the bead of the wing, is 13° S. of Scheat, and passes the meridian 11 minutes after it.
Pales, the female deity corresponding to Pan, was the goddess of sheepfolds and of pastures among the Romans. Thus Virgil:
"Now, sacred Pales, in a lofty strain,
I sing the rural honours of thy reign."
The shepherds offered to this goddess milk and honey, to gain her protection over their flocks. She is represented as an old woman, and was worshipped with great solenmity at Rome. Fer festivals which were called Palilia, were celebrated on the 20th of April, the day on which Romulus laid the foundations of the city.
How is Pegasuз represented? What space and position does it occupy in the hea vens! What are the distance and direction of its centre from the prime merilian? What are its mean length and breadth? How long is it in passing our meridian? When does it pass the meridian? How is this constellation distinguished from all others? Describe the two stars which form the west side of the square?
i The two stars which form the eastern side of the square, come to the meridian about an hour after those in the western. / The northern one has already been described as Alpheratz in the head of Andromeda, but it also belongs to this constellation, and is 14° E. of Scheat. 14° S. of Alpheratz, is Algenib, the last star in the wing, situated 16° E. of Markab.
Algenib, in Pegasus, Alpheratz, in Andromeda, and Caph in Cassiopeia are situated on the prime meridian, and point out its direction through the pole. For this reason, they are sometimes called the three guides. They form an arc of that great circle in the heavens from which the distances of all the heavenly bodies are measured. It is an arc of the equinoctial colure which passes through the vernal equinox, and which the sun crosses about the 21st of March. It is, in astronomy, what the meridian of Greenwich is in geography. If the sun, or a planet, or a star, be said to have so many degrees of right ascension, it means that the sun or planet has ascended so many degrees from this prime meridian.
Enif, sometimes called Enir, is a star of the 3d magnitude in the nose of Pegasus, about 20° W. S. W. of Markab, and halfway between it and the Dolphin. About of the distance from Markab towards Enif, but a little to the S., there is a star of the 3d magnitude situated in the neck, whose letter name is Zeta. The loose cluster directly S. of a line joining Enif and Zeta, forms the head of Pegasus.
In this constellation, there are eighty-nine stars visible to the naked eye, of which three are of the second magnitude and three of the third.
HISTORY.-This, according to fable, is the celebrated horse which sprung from the blood of Medusa, after Perseus had cut off her head. He received his name according to Hesiod, from his being born near the sources (y", Pege) of the ocean. According to Ovid, he fixed his residence on Mount Helicon, where by striking the earth with his foot, he raised the fabled fountain called Hippocrene. He became the favourite of the Muses; and being tamed by Neptune or Minerva, he was given to Bellerophon, son of Glaucus, king of Ephyre, to aid him in conquering the Chimæra, a hideous monster that continually vomited flames. This monster had three heads, that of a lion, a goat, and a dragon. The fore parts of its body were those of a lion, the middle those of a goat, and the hinder those of the dragon. It lived in Lycia, of which the top, on account of its desolate wilderness, was the resort of lions, the middle, which was fruitful, was covered with goats, and at the bottom, the marshy ground abounded with serpents. Bellerophon was the first who made his habitation upon it.
Plutarch thinks the Chimæra was the captain of some pirates who adorned their ship with the images of a lion, a goat, and a dragon.
After the destruction of this monster, Bellerophon attempted to fly up to heaven upon Pegasus; but Jupiter was so displeased at this presumption, that he sent an insect to sting the horse, which occasioned the melancholy fall of his rider. Bellerophon fell to the earth, and Pegasus continued his flight up to heaven, and was placed by Jupiter among the constellations.
"Now heav'n his further wand'ring flight confines,
EQUULUS, VEL EQUI SECTIO.
THE LITTLE HORSE, OR THE HORSE'S HEAD.-This Asterism, or small cluster of stars, is situated about 7° W. of Enif, in the head of Pegasus, and about halfway between it
Describe the two on the east side. What is the name of the star in the N. E. corner of the square? In the S. E. corner? In the S. W. corner? In the N. W. corner? Describe the position and magnitude of Enif. What is the whole number of stars in Pegasus? What is the magnitude of the principal ones? Describe the situation of the the Little Horse?
and the Dolphin. It is on the meridian at 8 o'clock, on the 11th of October. It contains ten stars, of which the four principal are only of the 4th magnitude. These may be readily distinguished by means of the long irregular square which they form. The two in the nose, are much nearer together than the two in the eyes; the former being 1o apart, and the latter 20. Those in the nose are uppermost, being 4° N. of those in the eyes. This figure also is in an inverted position. These four stars are situated 10° or 12° S. E. of the diamond in the Dolphin's head. Both of these clusters, are noticeable on account of their figure rather than their brilliancy.
HISTORY.-This constellation is supposed to be the brother of Pegasus, named Celeris, given by Mercury to Castor, who was so celebrated for his skill in the management of horses; others take him to be the celebrated horse which Neptune struck out of the earth with his trident, when he disputed with Minerva for superiority. The head only of Celeris is visible, and this, also, is represented in an inverted position.
THE WATER-BEARER. This constellation is represented by the figure of a man, pouring out water from an urn. It is situated in the Zodiac, immediately S. of the equinoctial, and bounded by the Little Horse, Pegasus, and the Western Fish on the N., the Whale on the E., the Southern Fish on the S. and the Goat on the W. It is now the 12th in order, or last of the Zodiacal constellations; and is the name of the 11th sign in the ecliptic. Its mean declination is 14° S. and its mean right ascension 3350, or 22 hours, 20 min.; it being 1 hour and 40 min. W. of the equinoctial colure; its centre is, therefore, on the meridian the 15th of October.
It contains one hundred and eight stars; of which the four largest are all of the 3d magnitude.
"His head, his shoulders, and his lucid breast,
The northeastern limit of Aquarius may be readily distinguished by means of four stars of the 4th magnitude, in the hand and handle of the urn, so placed as to form the letter Y, very plainly to be seen, 150 S. E. of Enif, or 18° S. S. W. of Markab, in Pegasus ; making with the two latter nearly a right angle.
When is it on the meridian? What is the whole number of its stars? What is the magnitude of the principal ones? How may the principal stars be distinguished? How are the two in the nose distinguished from the two in the eyes? What are their distance and direction from the Dolphin? On what account are these clusters noticea ble? How is Aquarius represented? Where is it situated? What is its present order among the constellations of the Zodiac? What are its right ascension and declination? What is the whole number of its stars? What is the magnitude of the principal ones? How may the N. E. limit of Aquarius be readily distinguished? What are the distance and direction of this letter Y, from Markab and Enif, in Pegasus ?