« PreviousContinue »
The two small stars 5° or 6° S. of Rastaben are in the left foot of Hercules.
Rastaben is on the meridian nearly at the same moment with Ras Alhague. Etanin, 40° N. of it, is on the meridian about the 4th of August, at the same time with the three western stars in the face of Taurus Poniatowskii, or the V. It is situated less than 2° west o the solstitial colure, and is exactly in the zenith of London. Its favorable position has lal English astronomers to watch its appearance, for long periods, with the most exact and unwearied scrutiny.
Of the four stars forming the irregular square in the head, the lower and right-hand one is 5° N. of Etanin. It is called Grumium, and is of the 3d magnitude. A few degrees E. of the square, may be seen, with a little care, eight stars of the 5th magnitude, and one of the 4th, which is marked Omicron, and lies 8° E. of Grumium. This group is in the first coil of the Dragon.
The second coil is about 18° below the first, and may be recognized by means of four stars of the 3d and 4th magnitudes, so situated as to form a small square, about half the size of that in the head. The brightest of them is on the left, and is marked Delta. A line drawn from Rastaben through Grumium, and produced about 14°, will point it out. A line drawn from Lyra through Zi Draconis, and produced 10° further, will point out Zeta, a star of the 3d magnitude, situated in the third coil. Zeta may otherwise be known, by its being nearly in a line with, and midway between, Etanin and Kochab. From Zeta, the remaining stars in this constellation are easily traced.
Eta, Theta, and Asich, come next; all stars of the 3d magnitude, and at the distance severally, of 6°, 4°, and 5° from Zeta. At Asich, the third star from Zeta, the tail of the Dragon makes a sudden crook. Thuban, Kappa, and Giansar, follow next, and complete the tail.
212. Thuban is a bright star of the 2d magnitude, 11° from Asich, in a line with, and about midway between, Mizar and the southernmost guard in the Little Bear. By nautical men this star is called the Dragon's Tail, and is considered of much importance at sea. It is otherwise celebrated as being formerly the north polar star. About 2,300 years before the Christian Era, Thuban was ten times nearer the true pole of the heavens than Cynosura now is.
Kappa is a star of the 3d magnitude, 10° from Alpha, between Megrez and the pole. Mizar and Megrez, in the tail of the Great Bear, form, with Thuban and Kappa, in the tail of the Dragon, a large quadrilateral figure, whose longest side is from Megrez to Kappa.
Giansar, the last star in the tail, is between the 3d and 4th magnitudes, and 5° from Kappa. The two pointers will also point out Giansar, lying at the distance of little more than 8° from them, and in the direction of the pole.
Mythologists give various accounts of this constellation. By some it is represented as the watchful dragon which guarded the golden apples in the famous garden of the Hesperides, near Mount Atlas in Africa, and was slain by Hercules. Juno, who presented these apples to Jupiter on the day of their nuptials, took Draco up to heaven, and made a constellation of him, as a reward for his faithful services. Others maintain that in the war with the giants, this dragon was brought into combat, and opposed to Minei va, who seized it in her hand, and hurled it, twisted as it was, into the heavens round the axis of the world, before it had time to unwind its contortions, where it sleeps to this day. Other writers of antiquity say, that this is the dragon killed by Cadmus, who was ordered by his father to go in quest of his sister Europa, whom Jupiter had carried away, and never to return to Phenicia without her.
"When now Agenor had his daughter lost,
He sent his son to search on every coast;
214. Size and position of Thuban? What called by nautical men? How otherwise celebrated? What further of Kappa, Mizar, Megrez, &c.?
HISTORY. Various Mythological accounts? Story of Cadmus and the dragon's teeth?
His search, however, proving fruitless, he consulted the oracle of Apollo, and was ordered to build a city where he should see a heifer stop in the grass, and to call the country Boeotia. He saw the heifer according to the oracle, and as he wished to render thanks to the god by a sacrifice, he sent his companions to fetch water from the neighboring grove. The waters were sacred to Mars, and guarded by a most terrific dragon, who devoured all the messengers. Cadmus, tired of their seeming delay, went to the place, and saw the monster still feeding on their flesh.
Cadmus, beholding such a scene, boldly resolved to avenge, or to share their fate. He therefore attacked the monster with slings and arrows, and, with the assistance of Minerva, slew him. He then plucked out his teeth, and sowed them, at the command of Pallas, in a plain, when they suddenly sprung up into armed men.
Entertaining worse apprehension from the direful offspring than he had done from the dragon himself, he was about to fly, when they fell upon each other, and were all slain in one promiscuous carnage, except five, who assisted Cadmus to build the city of Boeotia.
1. a DRACONIS (Thuban)—A star with a distant companion in the fifth coil of Draco; R. A. 14h. 00m. 038.; Dec. N. 65° 08′ 04′′. A 3, pale yellow; B 8, dusky; two other stars in the field. Upwards of 4,600 years ago, this was the pole-star of the Chaldeans.
2. B DRACONIS (Rastaben)—A star with a very distant companion, in the eye of Draco; R. A. 17h. 26m. 48s.; Dec. N. 52° 25′ 02′′. A 2, yellow; B 10, bluish; other stars in field.
3. Y DRACONIS (Etanin)—A star with a telescopic companion, in the crown of Draco; R. A. 17h. 52m. 53s.; Dec. N. 51° 30′ 06′′. A 2, orange tint; B 12, pale lilac. A third star in the field making a neat triangle with A and B. Etanin is celebrated as the star by viewing which, Bradly discovered the aberration of light in 1725. It is a zenith-star at the Greenwich observatory.
4. DRACONIS-A bright star with a distant companion, in the second flexure; R. A. 19h. 12m. 80s.; Dec. N. 67′′ 22′ 08′′. A 8, deep yellow; B 9, pale red; other small stars in the field.
5. & DRACONIS-A fine double star between the second and third flexures; R. A. 19h. 48m. 41s.; Dec. N. 69° 51′ 6′′. A 5%, light yellow; B 8, blue; a third star just north of a.
6. 7 DRACONIS-A star with a companion, between the third and fourth flexures; R. A. 16h. 21m. 488.; Dec. N. 61° 52' 04". A 8, deep yellow; B 11, pale grey.
7. DRACONIS-A very neat BINARY SYSTEM, on the tip of the Dragon's tongue; R. A. 17h. 02m. 02s.; Dec. N. 54° 41′ 02′′. A 4, and B 4, both white. Resembles Castor, though the components are nearer equal. Period, about 600 years.
8. A TRIPLE STAR in the first flexure; R. A. 18h. 21m. 36s.; Dec. N. 58° 42′ 05′′. A 5, pale white; B 8%, light blue; C 7, ruddy. A difficult object about midway between Y and d.
9. A beautiful TRIPLE STAR in the nose of Draco, on a line from y over B, and near twice as much further; R. A. 16h. 32m. 28s.; Dec. N. 53° 14' 09". A 6, pale yellow; B 6, faint lilac; C6, white; four other stars in view.
10. A BRIGHT-CLASS, OVAL NEBULA, under the body of Draco; R. A. 15h. 02m. 08s.; Dec. N. 56° 28' 0". Faint at the edges, with four stars in the field; one quite near it.
11. A PLANETARY NEBULA, between the second and third coil, on a line from Polaris to Y Draconis: R. A. 17h. 58m. 388.; Dec. 66° 38′ 01′′. A remarkably bright and pale blue object, with several telescopic stars in the field. Map IX., Fig. 56. It is situated exactly in the pole of the ecliptic.
LYRA (THE HARP).—MAP V.
213. This constellation is distinguished by one of the most brilliant stars in the northern hemisphere. It is situated directly south of the first coil of Draco, between the Swan on the
TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.-Alpha? Beta? Gamma? Delta? Epsilon ? Eta? Mu? Triple stars? Nebulæ?
218. How is Lyra distinguished? Where situated? Number and size of its prici pal stars?
east, and Hercules on the west; and when on the meridian, is almost directly overhead. It contains twenty-one stars, including one of the 1st magnitude, two of the 3d, and as many of the 4th.
There Lyra, for the brightness of her stars,
More than their number, eminent; thrice seven
She counts, and one of these illuminates
The heavens far around, blazing imperial
214. This star "blazing imperial in the first order" is called Vega, and sometimes Wega; but more frequently, Lyra, after the name of the constellation.
There is no possibility of mistaking this star for any other. It is situated 143° S. E. of Eltanin, and about 30° N. N. E. of Ras Alhague and Ras Algethi. It may be certainly known by means of two small, yet conspicuous stars, of the 5th magnitude, situated about 2° apart, on the east of it, and making with it a beautiful little triangle, with the angular point at Lyra.
The northernmost of these two small stars is marked Epsilon, and the southern one Zeta. About 2° S. E. of Zeta, and in a line with Lyra, is a star of the 4th magnitude, marked Delta, in the middle of the Harp; and 4° or 5° S. of Delta, are two stars of the 8d magnitude, about 2° apart, in the garland of the Harp, forming another triangle, whose vertex is in Delta. The star on the east is marked Gamma; that on the west, Beta. If a line be drawn from Etanin through Lyra, and produced 6° farther, it will reach Beta. This is a variable star, changing from the 3d to nearly the 5th magnitude in the space of a week; it is supposed to have spots on its surface, and to turn on its axis, like
Gamma comes to the meridian 21 minutes after Lyra, and precisely at the same moment with Epsilon, in the tail of the Eagle, 17° S. of it.
The remarkable brightness of a Lyra has attracted the admiration of astronomers in all ages. Manilius, who wrote in the age of Augustus, thus alludes to it :
"ONE, placed in front above the rest, displays
It is generally asserted that this is the celestial Lyre which Apollo or Mercury gave to Orpheus, and upon which he played with such a masterly hand, that even the most rapid rivers ceased to flow, the wild beasts of the forest forgot their wildness, and the mountains came to listen to his song.
Of all the nymphs who used to listen to his song, Eurydyce was the only one who made a deep impression on the musician, and their nuptials were celebrated. Their happiness, however, was short. Aristæus became enamored of Eurydice, and as she fled from her pursuer, a serpent, lurking in the grass, bit her foot, and she died of the wound. Orpheus resolved to recover her, or perish in the attempt. With his lyre in his hand, he entered the infernal regions, and gained admission to Pluto. The king of hell was charmed with his strains, the wheel of Ixion stopped, the stone of Sisyphus stood still, Tantalus forgot his thirst, and even the furies relented.
Pluto and Proserpine were moved, and consented to restore him Eurydice, provided he forbore looking behind till he had come to the extremest borders of their dark dominions.
214. Names of the most brilliant star? How certainly known? Where are Epsilon, Zeta, Delta, Gamma, and Beta? What peculiarity about Beta? In a Lyræ?
The condition was accepted, and Orpheus was already in sight of the upper regions of the air, when he forgot, and turned back to look at his long-lost Eurydice. He saw her, but she instantly vanished from his sight. He attempted again to follow her, but was refused admission.
From this time, Orpheus separated himself from the society of mankind, which so offended the Thracian women, it is said, that they tore his body to pieces, and threw his head into the Hebrus, still articulating the words Eurydice! Eurydice! as it was carried down the stream into the Ægean sea. Orpheus was one of the Argonauts, of which celebrated expedition he wrote a poetical account, which is still extant. After his death, he received divine honors, and his lyre became one of the constellations.
This fable, or allegory, designed merely to represent the power of music in the hands of the great master of the science, is similarly described by three of the most renowned Latin poets. Virgil, in the fourth book of his Georgics, thus describes the effect of the lyre:
Pythagoras and his followers represent Apollo playing upon a harp of seven strings, by which is meant (as appears from Pliny, b. ii. c. 22, Macrobius i. c. 19, and Censorius c. ii.), the sun in conjunction with the seven planets; for they made him the leader of that septenary chorus, and the moderator of nature, and thought that by his attractive torce he acted upon the planets in the harmonical ratio of their distances.
The doctrine of celestial harmony, by which was meant the music of the spheres, was common to all the nations of the East. To this divine music Euripides beautifully alludes:-"Thee I invoke, thou self-created Being, who gave birth to Nature, and whom light and darkness, and the whole train of globes encircle with eternal music."-So also Shakspeare:
The lyre was a famous stringed instrument, much used among the ancients, said to have been invented by Mercury about the year of the world 2,000; though some ascribe the invention to Jubal. (Genesis iv. 21.) It is universally allowed, that the lyre was the first instrument of the string kind ever used in Greece. The different lyres, at various periods of time, had from four to eighteen strings each. The modern lyre is the Welsh harp. The lyre, among painters, is an attribute of Apollo and the Muses.
All poetry, it has been conjectured, was in its origin lyric; that is, adapted to recitation or song, with the accompaniment of music, and distinguished by the utmost boldness of thought and expression; being at first employed in celebrating the praises of gods and heroes.
Lesbos was the principal seat of the Lyric Muse; and Terpander, a native of this island, who flourished about 650 years B. C., is one of the earliest of the Lyric poets whose name we find on record. Sappho, whose misfortunes have united with her talents to render her name memorable, was born at Mitylene, the chief city of Lesbos. She was
HISTORY.-Story of Orpheus and Eurydice? poets? Origin of the Lyre, and of Lyric poetry?
Design of this myth? Celebrated by what
reckoned a tenth muse, and placed without controversy at the head of the female writers in Greece. But Pindar, a native of Thebes, who flourished about 500 years B. C., is styled the prince of lyric poets. To him his fellow-citizens erected a monument; and when the Lacedemonians ravaged Boeotia, and burnt the capital, the following words were written upon the door of the poet: FORBEAR TO BURN THIS HOUSE. IT WAS THE DWELLING OF PINDAR.
1. a LYRE-A star with a little companion; R. A. 18h. 81m. 80s.; Dec. N. 38° 38′ 01′′. A 1, pale sapphire; B 11, smalt blue. Map VIII., Fig. 15.
a Lyria is computed to be 400,000 times as remote as our sun; or 38,000,000,000,000 distant! And yet what is this to the mean distances of many of those of the 12th to 15th magnitudes?
2. B LYRE-A star with its companions forming a quadruple system; R. A. 18h. 44m. 09s.; Dec. N. 83° 10' 08". A 8, very white and splendid; B 8, pale grey; C 8%, faint yellow; D 9, light lilac. B is regarded as variable.
3. Y LYRE-A lustrous star 7° southeast of Vega, with a minute distant companion' R. A. 18h. 52m. 57s.; Dec. N. 82° 28′ 05′′. A 3, bright yellow; B 11, blue; other telescopic stars in the field.
4. & LYRE-A splendid MULTIPLE STAR, only 1° northeast of Vega; R. A. 18h. 89m. 028.; Dec. N. 39° 30' 03". Map VIII., Fig. 16. With small instruments it appears simply double; but with better instruments each of the components are found to be double, and binary systems. Between the twin systems are three minute stars. The components of the two systems are described as A 5, yellow; B 6%, ruddy; C 5, and D 5%, both white. A, B are the lowest, or northern pair.
These two twin systems are in motion around a common center of gravity, as well as the respective components around each other. The period of the individual systems is estimated at about 2,000 years; while 1,000,000 of years are supposed to be requisite for a revolution round the common center of both!
5. LYRE-A fine DOUBLE STAR about 2° south of ɛ; R. A. 18h. 39m. 15s.; Dec. N. 87° 26' 05. A 5, topaz; B 5%, greenish.
6. 77 LYRE-A neat DOUBLE STAR 6° east of Vega; R. A. 19h. 08m. 18s.; Dec. N. 88° 52 05". A 5, sky blue; B 9, violet tint. A fine object for a moderate telescope.
7. V LYRE-A QUADRUPLE STAR in the cross-piece of the Lyre; R. A. 18h. 43m. 48s.; Dec. N. 32° 38' 0". A 9, pale yellow; B 13, bluish; C 11, pale blue; D 15, blue; three other stars in the field. A very delicate object.
8. A GLOBULAR CLUSTER, in a splendid field, between the eastern yoke of Lyra and the head of Cygnus; R. A. 19h. 10m. 19s,; Dec. N. 29° 54' 02. About 5° southeast of ẞ Lyræ, towards ẞ Cygni, and 3° from the latter. Map IX., Fig. 57.
9. An ANNULAR NEBULA between B and y; R. A. 18h. 47m. 37s.; Dec. N. 82° 50′ 01′′. A wonderful object, in the form of an elliptical ring. Supposed by Herschel to be 900 times as distant as Sirius. A clear opening through its center, and several stars in the field. Map IX., Fig. 58.
TAURUS PONIATOWSKII.-MAP V.
215. This small asterism is between the shoulder of Ophiuchus and the Eagle. The principal stars are in the head, and of the 4th magnitude. They are arranged in the form of the letter V, and from a fancied resemblance to the zodiac Bull, and the Hyades, became another Taurus. See description of Serpentarius, article 206.
TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.-Alpha? Beta? Gamma Epsilon? Zeta ? Eta? Nu? What cluster? Point out on the map. found on the map ?
215. Describe Taurus Poniatowskii. Where situated?
Point out on the map.