Page images


According to the Grecian mythology, this is the animal which bore Europa over the seas to that country which derived from her its name. She was the daughter of Agenor, and princess of Phoenicia. She was so beautiful that Jupiter became enamoured of her; and assuming the shape of a snow-white bull, he mingled with the herds of Agenor, while Europa, with her female attendants, were gathering flowers in the meadows. Europa caressed the beautiful animal, and at last had the courage to sit upon his back. The god now took advantage of her situation, and with precipitate steps retired towards the shore, and crossed the sea with Europa upon his back, and arrived safe in Crete. Some suppose she lived about 1552 years before the Christian Era. It is probable, however, that this constellation had a place in the Zodiac before the Greeks began to cultivate a knowledge of the stars; and that it was rather an invention of the Egyptians or Chaldeans. Both the Egyptians and Persians worshipped a deity under this figure, by the name of Apis; and Belzoni is said to have found an embalmed bull in one of the notable sepulchres near Thebes.

In the Hebrew Zodiac, Taurus is ascribed to Joseph.

The Pleiades, according to fable, were the seven daughters of Atlas and the nymph Pleione, who were turned into stars, with their sisters the Hyades, on account of their amiable virtues and mutual affection.

Thus we everywhere find that the ancients, with all their barbarism and idolatry, entertained the belief that unblemished virtue and a meritorious life would meet their reward in the sky. Thus Virgil represents Magnus Apollo as bending from the sky to address the youth Iulus :

"Macte nova virtute puer; sic itur ad astra;
Diis genite, et geniture Deos."

"Go on, spotless boy, in the paths of virtue; it is the way to the stars; offspring of the gods thyself-so shalt thou become the father of gods."

Our disgust at their superstitions may be in some measure mitigated, by seriously reflecting, that had some of these personages lived in our day, they had been ornaments in the Christian Church, and models of social virtue.


1. a TAURI (Aldebaran)—A star of the first magnitude with a telescopic companion; R. A. 4h. 26m. 44s.; Dec. N. 16° 10' 9". A 1, pale rose tint; B 12, sky blue.

2. B TAURI (El Nath)-R. A. 5h. 16m. 11s.; Dec. N. 28° 28'. A fine star, with a distant companion. A 2, brilliant white; B 10, pale grey.

3. y TAURI-One of the Hyades; R. A. 4h. 10m. 41s.; Dec. 11° 14' 1". A bright star, with a distant telescopic companion; A 3%, yellow; B 11, pale blue.

4. 7 TAURI (Alcyone)—One of the Pleiades; R. A. 3h. 37m. 57s.; Dec. N. 23° 36′ 3′′. A 3, greenish yellow; B, pale white and distant.

5. A NEBULOUS STAR; R. A. 3h. 59m. 06s.; Dec. N. 30° 20' 5". A star of the eighth magnitude, with a faint luminous atmosphere surrounding it, and about 8' in diameter. This star and nebula led Sir William Herschel to adopt his Nebula Theory, or theory of condensation of gas or nebulous matter, into suns and worlds.

6. A LARGE NEBULA; R. A. 5h. 24m. 51s.; Dec. N. 21° 54' 2". It is about one degree north-west of in the tip of the Bull's southern horn. It is an oval form, with several minute telescopic stars in its vicinity. For drawing, see Map VIII., Fig 30.

Of the Pleiades and Hyades, two prominent clusters, we have spoken at 64, 65.


70. Whoever looks up to this constellation and learns its name, will never forget it. It is too beautifully splendid to need a description. When it is on the meridian, there is then above

HISTORY.-Story of Europa and Jupiter? What probability? What said of the Egyptians and Persians? Hebrew zodiacs? Fabulous paternity of the Pleiades? Why turned into stars? What remarks respecting the ancients?

TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.-Alpha? Beta? Gamma? Eta? Nebula? Point out on the


70. What is said of Orion? Of the view when on the meridian? How is Orion repre

the horizon the most magnificent view of the celestial bodies that the starry firmament affords; and it is visible to all the habitable world, because the equinoctial passes through the middle of the constellation. It is represented on celestial maps by the figure of a man in the attitude of assaulting the Bull, with a sword in his belt, a huge club in his right hand, and the skin of a lion in his left, to serve for a shield.

Manilius, a Latin poet, who composed five books on astronomy a short time before the birth of our Saviour, thus describes its appearance :

"First next the Twins, see great Orion rise,

His arms extended stretch o'er half the skies;
His stride as large, and with a steady pace
He marches on, and measures a vast space;
On each broad shoulder a bright star display'd,
And three obliquely grace his hanging blade.
In his vast head, immers'd in boundless spheres,
Three stars, less bright, but yet as great, he bears,
But farther off removed, their splendor's lost;
Thus graced and arm'd he leads the starry host."

71. The centre of the constellation is midway between the poles of the heavens and directly over the equator. It is also about 8° W. of the solstitial colure, and comes to the meridian about the 23d of January. The whole number of visible stars in this constellation is 78; of which, two are of the first magnitude, four of the 2d, three of the 3d, and fifteen of the 4th.


72. Those four brilliant stars in the form of a long square or parallelogram, intersected in the middle by the "Three Stars," or Ell and Yard," about 25° S. of the Bull's horns, form the outlines of Orion. The two upper stars in the parallelogram are about 15° N. of the two lower ones; and, being placed on each shoulder, may be called the epaulets of Orion. The brightest of the two lower ones is in the left foot, on the W., and the other which is the least brilliant of the four, in the right knee. To be more particular; Bellatrix is a star of the 2d magnitude on the W. shoulder; Betelguese is a star of the 1st magnitude, 74° E. of Bellatrix, on the E. shoulder. It is brighter than Bellatrix, and lies a little farther toward the north; and comes to the meridian 30 minutes after it, on the 21st of January. These two form the upper end of the parallelogram.

73. Rigel is a splended star of the 1st magnitude, in the left foot, on the W. and 15° S. of Bellatrix. Saiph is a star of the 3d magnitude, in the right knee, 84° E. of Rigel. These two form the lower end of the parallelogram.

sented on the maps? How described by Manilius? 71. Situation of Orion? Number of visible stars? Magnitudes? 72. What is the Ell and Yard? What constitutes the outline of Orion? Where is Bellatrix? Betelguese and magnitude? 78. Rigel? Swiph?

"First in rank

The martial star upon his shoulder flames;
A rival star illuminates his foot;
And on his girdle beams a luminary
Which, in vicinity of other stars,
Might claim the proudest honors."

74. There is a little triangle of three small stars in the head of Orion, which forms a larger triangle with the two in his shoulders. In the middle of the parallelogram are three stars of the 2d magnitude, in the belt of Orion, that form a straight line about 3° in length from N. W. to S. E. They are usually distinguished by the name of the Three Stars, because there are no other stars in the heavens that exactly resemble them in position and brightness. They are sometimes denominated the Three Kings, because they point out the Hyades and Pleiades on one side, and Sirius, or the Dog-star, on the other. In Job they are called the Bands of Orion; while the ancient husbandmen called them Jacob's rod, and sometimes the Rake. The University of Leipsic, in 1807, gave them the name of Napoleon. But the more common appellation for them, including those in the sword, is the Ell and Yard. They derive the latter name from the circumstance that the line which unites the "three stars" in the belt measures just 3° in length, and is divided by the central star into two equal parts, like a yard-stick; thus serving as a graduated standard for measuring the distances of stars from each other. When, therefore, any star is described as being so many degrees from another, in order to determine the distance, it is recommended to apply this rule.

It is necessary that the scholar should task his ingenuity only a few evenings in applying such a standard to the stars, before he will learn to judge of their relative distances with an accuracy that will seldom vary a degree from the truth.


75. The northernmost star in the belt, called Mintika, is less than S. of the equinoctial, and when on the meridian, is almost exactly over the equator. It is on the meridian, the 24th of January. The "three stars" are situated about 8° W. of the solstitial colure, and uniformly pass the meridian one hour and fifty minutes after the seven stars. There is a row of stars of the 4th and 5th magnitudes, S. of the belt, running down obliquely towards Saiph, which forms the sword. This row is also called the Ell because it is once and a quarter the length of the Yard or belt.

74. What constitutes the head of Orion? What in the middle of the parallelogram? Names, and why? "Three stars?" "Three Kings?" "Bands of Orion," "Jacob's Rod," Napoleon," "Ell and Yard? Use of the Ell and Yard? 75. What said of Mintika? Of the "three stars?" What other row of stars? Forms what? Called what and why?

76. About 9° W. of Bellatrix, are eight stars, chiefly of the 4th magnitude, in a curved line running N. and S. with the concavity toward Orion; these point out the skin of the lion in his left hand. Of Orion, on the whole, we may remark with Eudosia:

"He who admires not, to the stars is blind."


According to some authorities, Orion was the son of Neptune and queen Euryale, a famous Amazonian huntress, and possessing the disposition of his mother, he became the greatest hunter in the world, and even boasted that there was not an animal on earth which he could not conquer. To punish this vanity, it is said that a scorpion sprung up out of the earth and bit his foot, that he died; and that at the request of Diana he was placed among the stars directly opposite to the Scorpion that caused his death. Others say that Orion had no mother, but was the gift of the gods, Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury, to a peasant of Boeotia, as a reward of piety, and that he was invested with the power of walking over the sea without wetting his feet. In strength and stature he surpassed all other mortals. He was skilled in the working of iron, from which he fabricated a subterranean palace for Vulcan; he also walled in the coasts of Sicily against the inundations of the sea, and built thereon a temple to its gods.

Orion was betrothed to the daughter of Enopion, but he, unwilling to give up his daughter, contrived to intoxicate the illustrious hero and put out his eyes, on the seashore where he had laid himself down to sleep. Orion, finding himself blind when he awoke, was conducted by the sound to a neighboring forge, where he placed one of the workmen on his back, and, by his directions, went to a place where the rising sun was seen with the greatest advantage. Here he turned his face toward the luminary, and, as it is reported, immediately recovered his sight, and hastened to punish the perfidious cruelty of Enopion.

As the constellation Orion, which rises at noon about the 9th day of March, and sets at noon about the 21st of June, is generally supposed to be accompanied, at its rising, with great rains and storms, it became extremely terrible to mariners, in the early adventures of navigation. Virgil, Ovid, and Horace, with some of the Greek poets, make mention of this.

Thus Eneas accounts for the storm which cast him on the African coast on his way to Italy:

"To that blest shore we steer'd our destined way,
When sudden, dire Orion rous'd the sea;

All charg'd with tempests rose the baleful star,
And on our navy pour'd his wat'ry war."

To induce him to delay his departure, Dido's sister advises her to

"Tell him, that, charged with deluges of rain,
Orion rages on the wintry main."

The name of this constellation is mentioned in the books of Job and Amos, and in Homer. The inspired prophet, penetrated like the psalmist of Israel with the omniscience and power displayed in the celestial glories, utters this sublime injunction: "Seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into morning." Job also, with profound veneration, adores his awful majesty who "commandeth the sun and sealeth up the stars; who alone spreadeth out the heavens, and maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south:" and in another place, the Almighty demands of him-" Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion; canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season, or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?"

Calmet supposes that Mazzaroth is here put for the whole order of celestial bodies in the Zodiac, which, by their appointed revolutions, produce the various seasons of the year, and the regular succession of day and night. Arcturus is the name of the principal star in Bootes, and is here put for the constellation itself. The expression, his sons, doubtless refers to Asterion and Chara, the two greyhounds, with which he seems to be pursuing the Great Bear around the North pole.

76. What stars mentioned west of Bellatrix? Remark respecting Orion? HISTORY.-Story of parentage? Disposition and boasting? Punishment? What other account? What mention of by Virgil? By Job and Homer? Supposition of Calmet? What meant by "Arcturus and his sons?"


1. a ORIONIS (Betelguese)—R. A. 5h. 46m. 30s.; Dec. N. 7° 22′ 3′′. A 1, orange tint; B 11, bluish.

2. B ORIONIS (Rigel)-R. A. 5h. 6m. 51s; Dec. S. 8° 23' 5". A 1, pale yellow; B 9, sapphire blue. Map VIII. Fig. 3.

3. y ORIONIS (Bellatrix)-R. A. 5h. 16m. 33s.; Dec. N. 6° 12'. A FINE STAR, with a minute distant companion. A 2, pale yellow; B 15, grey.

4. ORIONIS (Mintaka)—A coarse DOUBLE STAR in the girdle of the figure; R. A. 5h. 23m. 50s.; Dec. S. 0° 25′ 4′′. A 2, white; B 7, pale violet.

5. E ORIONIS (Alnilam) in the centre of his belt; R. A. 5h. 28m. 06s.; Dec. S. 1° 18' 6". A 2%, white and nebulous; B. 10, pale blue.

6. ORIONIS (Alnitah) the last or lowest in the belt; R. A. 5h. 32m. 41s.; Dec. S. 2° 02′. A fine TRIPLE STAR. A 3, topaz yellow; B 6%, light purple; and C 10, gray.

7. A minute DOUBLE STAR and cluster, in Orion's left hand; R. A. 5h. 59m. 25s.; Dec. N. 13° 58′ 6′′. A 7%, B 8%, both lucid white.

8. Another DOUBLE STAR in a cluster, in the left shoulder; R. A. 6h. 03m. 35s.; Dec. N. 5° 28' 9". A 9% and B 10, both pale yellow. A tolerably rich cluster, with numerous stragglers.

9. A PLANETAY NEBULA, of a bluish white tint, on the nape of Orion's neck-small, pale, but quite distinct. R. A. 5h. 33m. 21s.; Dec. N. 9° 00′ 2′′.

10. Two stars"in a WISPY NEBULA," just above the left hip; R. A. 5h. 38m. 33s.; Dec. N. 0° 00' 7". A 8% and B. 9, both white. A singular mass, between two small stars, about equi-distant, in a blankish part of the heavens.

11. The GREAT NEBULA OF ORION-The most conspicuous nebula in all the heavens. It is situated in the sword of Orion, below the middle star of the belt; R. A. 5h. 27m. 25s.; Dec. 8. 5° 30'. For its position in the constellation see Map VIII., Fig. 31. It may be seen with a common telescope. There is an apparent opening in one side of this nebula, through which, as through a window, we seem to get a glimpse of other heavens, and brighter regions. (Map VIII., Fig. 32.)

12. The middle star in the sword is in the midst of this nebula, and with powerful telescopes is found to be sextuple. The writer has often seen the fifth star with a 6-inch refractor. These stars constitute the Trapezium of Orion. The region around this nebula is rich in stars, as shown on Map VIII., Fig. 33.


77. This constellation is situated directly south of Orion, and comes to the meridian at the same time; namely, on the 24th of January. It has a mean declination 18° S., and contains 19 small stars, of which, the four principal ones are of the 3d magnitude. It may be readily distinguished by means of four stars of the 3d magnitude, in the form of an irregular square, or trapezium.

78. Zeta, of the 4th magnitude, is the first star, and is situated in the back, 5° S. of Saiph, in Orion. About the same distance below Zeta are the four principal stars, in the legs and feet. These form the square. They are marked Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta.

TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.-Alpha? Beta? Gamma? Delta, &c.? What double stars? Nebula? Point out on the map?

77. Location of Lepus? Number and magnitude of stars? How may it be distinguished? 78. Size and situation of Zeta? Other principal stars? How marked on the map?

« PreviousContinue »