Who Names The Constellations

Who Names The Constellations
Who Names The Constellations

Video: Who Names The Constellations

Video: The Universe: The Constellations | History 2022, December

The starry sky has attracted human attention since ancient times. As in everything else, man was looking for some kind of orderliness, structure in him. It was noticed that the stars in the sky are located unevenly, forming groups. In these groups, the human eye guessed the familiar outlines of earthly objects, and, accordingly, these associations were named constellations.

Star map
Star map

The starry sky of the Northern Hemisphere was studied in detail in ancient times. The most ancient star catalogs were compiled by ancient Greek astronomers, therefore the names of the constellations of the northern and a small part of the southern hemisphere are inherited by modern civilization from antiquity.

The ancient Greeks associated the constellations with the heroes of their mythology. Some myths even tell how a particular character was turned by the gods into a star or constellation. This happened, for example, with the wise centaur Chiron, who turned to the constellation Centaurus.

Other ancient heroes immortalized in the names of the constellations are Perseus, Andromeda, the Dioscuri brothers - Castor and Pollux (the constellation of Gemini). Even the names of those constellations that, it would seem, do not cause such associations are associated with ancient Greek myths. The constellation of Cancer is associated with the very monstrous cancer that prevented Hercules from fighting the Lernaean hydra, and the constellation of Pisces is the fish that Aphrodite and her son Eros turned into, fleeing the monstrous giant Typhon.

However, ancient history knows an example when it was not a god and not a mythological hero that was immortalized in the starry sky, but a real person. We are talking about Veronica - the wife of Tsar Ptolemy Everget. This wonderful woman, having accompanied her husband to the war, vowed to cut her luxurious hair if the gods save her husband. The king returned safe and sound, and the queen kept her word. In memory of this, the astronomer Konon gave a group of stars, previously considered part of the constellation Leo, a new name - "Veronica's Hair".

Most of the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere Europeans could not observe until the era of the Great Geographical Discoveries, therefore, there are almost no mythological names on the map of the starry sky of the Southern Hemisphere - with the exception of those that are still visible from the Northern and therefore were known by the ancient astronomer, for example, the constellation Canis Major. associated with the dog of Orion.

Unlike the constellations of the Northern Hemisphere, for many of the southern constellations, you can tell exactly who gave them the name. For example, several constellations were named by the Dutch astronomer and cartographer P. Plantius. This man was also a theologian, therefore many of the names proposed by him are associated with biblical stories: the Rooster - with the abdication of the Apostle Peter, the Dove - with the story of Noah's flood.

The new era that followed the era of the great geographical discoveries was marked by rapid technical and scientific progress, therefore, many constellations of the Southern Hemisphere are named after various instruments: Octant, Microscope, Telescope, Compass, Compass. Such names were given to the constellations by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713-1762). Among the constellations identified by Lacaille, there is even the constellation of Pump. It is named after the physicist R. Boyle, who used an air pump in his experiments.

The era when it was possible to give names to constellations ended in 1922, when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union approved a list of 88 constellations. Astronomers do not plan to highlight new constellations.

Popular by topic