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Argos
2001-Nov-27, 11:26 AM
Given that BA constantly emphasizes the fact that the board is an useful reference for the kids and students in general, I'd like to share with them some hystorical point of view regarding the nomenclature of the constellations. It illustrates to a certain extent the implications of science-politics/science-religion entanglements.

It is interesting to note that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries some astronomers of Europe made attempts, for a veriety of reasons, to establish new constellations, at times distorting or even eliminating those of the ancients. For instance, the English astronomer Flamsteed in 1725 out of loyal sentiment named the principal star in the constellation Canis Venatici "Cor Caroli" ("Charles' Heart"). This precedent was followed by the English Hall, who at the end of the nineteenth century placed in the sky "Psalterium Georgii", and the German astronomer Bode, "The Regalia of Friedrich II". Incidentally, in order clear up a site for "The Regalia" of the Prussian king, Bode pushed aside the arm of Andromeda, who held it extended for three thousand years!

How far things were getting out of hand is shown by the following incident. In 1799 the noted French astronomer Lalande put in the sky a constellation called "Felis" ("The Cats"). The explanation he gave was this: "I like cats, I adore cats. I hope I shall be forgiven if after my sixty years of constant labour I place one of them in the sky".

All these reforming actions of individual astronomers are modest indeed beside the projects for total "reconstruction" of the constellations proposed by clerical circles in the seventeenth century. One of these projects calls for replace the "godless pagan" constellations with Christian ones. Some instances: Aries was converted into the constellation of The Apostle Peter, Pisces into the constellation of The Apostle Matthew, and the like. The Sun was to be renamed Jesus Christ, and the Moon was to become the Virgin Mary. The planets were to reform as well: Venus would have taken the name John, The Baptist.

Astronomers were firmly against any such reform. The absurdity of the whole thing was evident even to the more advanced thinkers of the church, for if the new designations were introduced, one would get phrases of a definitely impious slant, such as "Jesus Christ slipped below the horizon", or "Christ was eclipsed by the Virgin Mary"!

Even in the nineteenth century, attempts were made to break up the ancient patterns of the night sky. In 1808 certain sycophantic German scholars proposed changing Orion into the Constellation of Napoleon. The amusing thing is that even the french astronomers found this quite out of place.

The International Astronomical Congress of 1922 finally established order in the stellar affairs. The Regalia of Friedrich, The Cat of Lalande and 27 other luckless constellations were discarded, and strict boundary lines were set up between the remaining 88 constellations.

Some of the delegates to the congress proposed abolishing the constellations altogether, substituting in their place quadrangular areas of standard size.The majority however rejected this idea. The Congress retained the ancient and old designations of the constellations. True, the modern investigator of the sky finds hardly any need for them since stellar work is done by means of coordinates. But constellations are useful in gaining an initial and general understanding of the night sky. And what is more important, these are monuments of ancient culture that reflect in a peculiar fashion the various stages in the development of astronomy.

Source:

"Wonders Of The Night Sky" - F. Zigel (?) - Mir Publishers - Moscow - 1968 - Translated from the Russian by George Yankovsky

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2001-11-27 06:59 ]</font>

Kaptain K
2001-Nov-27, 03:51 PM
The Congress retained the ancient and old designations of the constellations. True, the modern investigator of the sky finds hardly any need for them since stellar work is done by means of coordinates.
While it is true that objects are located by their co-ordinates, even the pros find constellation (and star) names to be very convenient for describing what they are studying. For instance, an astronomer might set his 'scope to:

RA 11h 14m 06s
Dec 20d 31' 25"

but he would say "I'm studying delta Leonis".
_________________
TANSTAAFL!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kaptain K on 2001-11-27 10:55 ]</font>

Bob
2001-Nov-27, 04:12 PM
I love this story:
The two brightest stars in the constellation Delphinus (the Dolphin) are Sualocin and Rotanev. The names first appeared in an Italian star catalog in the 19th century. Clever astronomer-detectives later deduced that spelled backwards these stars are Nicolaus and Venator, which are Latinized versions of Niccolo Cacciatore. Turns out Niccolo was the assistant director of the observatory that published the catalog.

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-27, 07:28 PM
Query: Was it the IAC in the 20s that divided the ancient constellation Argo Navis into four constellations (Carina, Puppis, Pyxis and ... well, I know there're four of them)? Or was that an earlier change that the IAC approved?

Argos
2001-Nov-27, 11:40 PM
On 2001-11-27 14:28, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
Query: Was it the IAC in the 20s that divided the ancient constellation Argo Navis into four constellations (Carina, Puppis, Pyxis and ... well, I know there're four of them)? Or was that an earlier change that the IAC approved?


For long years Argus Navis was the most extensive constellation in the sky. Argus means "fast" and refers to the name of the ancient mythological ship which carried the Argonauts(*). In order to designate its main stars it was becoming necessary to multiply the letters of the Greek alphabet, circumstance that made it imperative to divide the asterism. As early as 1603, the astronomer Johan Bayer already distinguished in his observation records four parts of the ship: the Keel, the Poop, the Mast and the Sails. In 1752 the French astronomer Lacaille proposed taking the Mast to set up the constellation of Pyxis (the Compass). After a season studying the southern sky in 1877, in Argentina, the American astronomer B. Gould strongly suggested the definitive division of Argus in three distinct constellations: Carina (the Keel), Puppis (the Poop) and Vella (the Sails). Argus was officially extinct in 1925 after deliberate decision of the IAU.

(*) Its name designates the ship of the so called "argonauts", assembled in the port of Pegasae, in Thessalia, with the help of the goddess Palas-Athena (Minerva), in order to allow Jason and his fellows to travel in search of the Golden Fleece. It is not to be confounded with Argos Panoptes, another Greek deity (Argos of the hundred eyes, "all-eyes", the one who sees everything).





<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2001-11-27 19:37 ]</font>

ToSeek
2001-Nov-28, 01:50 PM
On 2001-11-27 18:40, Argos wrote:
Argus means "fast" and refers to the name of the ancient mythological ship which carried the Argonauts(*).


You're right about the ship, but the ancient Greek for "fast" is "tachy" or "tachys" (whence derives "tachyon," meaning a particle that moves faster than light).

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-28, 02:49 PM
There's no question that Argos was the ship name, but http://www.dictionary.com lists the etymology of argon as from the Greek neuter of argos, meaning idle, or inert.

Seems to be some contradiction there.

Maybe ol' Jason named his ship in the manner of the "Ketch Some Zs" and "Lazy Daze" that I see in the slips.

Bob
2001-Nov-28, 03:25 PM
On 2001-11-28 09:49, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
There's no question that Argos was the ship name, but http://www.dictionary.com lists the etymology of argon as from the Greek neuter of argos, meaning idle, or inert.

Seems to be some contradiction there.

Maybe ol' Jason named his ship in the manner of the "Ketch Some Zs" and "Lazy Daze" that I see in the slips.


Argo was the name of the shipbuilder.

GrapesOfWrath
2001-Nov-28, 03:41 PM
Argus?

So, was he the low bidder?

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-28, 07:19 PM
It so happens that I just t'other day picked up a copy of The Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodios (Apollonius of Rhodes), but haven't gotten into it yet. I'll check it out and see if he gives an explanation for the ship's name, and report back here.

The (we got cargo in the Argo....) Curtmudgeon

Argos
2001-Nov-29, 10:15 AM
Argo was the name of the shipbuilder.


Jason had the vessel constructed by the worthy shipwright Argus, who in a fit of vanity named her, Argo, more or less after himself.

In Dyer's poem of "The Fleece" there is an account of the ship "Argo" and her crew, which gives a good picture of this primitive maritime adventure:


"From every region of AEgea's shore
The brave assembled;
those illustrious twins
Castor and Pollux;
Orpheus, tuneful bard;
Zetes and Calais, as the wind in speed;
Strong Hercules and many a chief renowned.
On deep Ioclos' sandy shore they thronged,
Gleaming in armour, ardent of exploits;
And soon, the laurel cord and the huge stone
Uplifting to the deck, unmoored the bark;
Whose keel of wondrous length the skilful hand
Of Argus fashioned for the proud attempt;
And in the extended keel a lofty mast
Upraised, and sails full swelling;
to the chiefsUnwonted objects.
Now first, now they learned
Their bolder steerage over ocean wave,
Led by the golden stars, as Chiron's art
Had marked the sphere celestial," etc.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2001-11-29 06:23 ]</font>

Argos
2001-Nov-29, 11:11 AM
On 2001-11-28 08:50, ToSeek wrote:
You're right about the ship, but the ancient Greek for "fast" is "tachy" or "tachys" (whence derives "tachyon," meaning a particle that moves faster than light).




On 2001-11-28 09:49, GrapesOfWrath wrote:
There's no question that Argos was the ship name, but http://www.dictionary.com lists the etymology of argon as from the Greek neuter of argos, meaning idle, or inert.

Seems to be some contradiction there.

Maybe ol' Jason named his ship in the manner of the "Ketch Some Zs" and "Lazy Daze" that I see in the slips.


In fact it seems that I was betrayed by my dictionary ("Encyclopedic Dictionary of Astronomy and Astronautics" - Author: Ronaldo Rogério F. Mourão - Nova Fronteira Publishers - Rio de Janeiro - Brazil -1995 - 2nd Portuguese language edition).

As ToSeek pointed out, the Greek for fast is "Tachys", and I didn't take a time to check it. Shame on me! However, a renowned astronomer as Professor Mourão - Head of the Brazilian National Observatory - wouldn't commit such a blunder in his dictionary (or would he?), what leads me to guess (only guess) that the property "fast" of the ship Argo, built and named by Argus, under orders of Pelias and the blessings of Athena, was incorporated later in Greek language, turning "Argo" into another adjective, another word for "fast" (here I feel the terrain getting slippery under my feet).

As I'm not a specialist in ancient Greek, I'm waiting for the help of someone who could clarify this matter for us.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2001-11-29 06:21 ]</font>

Argos
2001-Nov-29, 03:33 PM
On 2001-11-28 14:19, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
It so happens that I just t'other day picked up a copy of The Argonautika by Apollonius Rhodios (Apollonius of Rhodes), but haven't gotten into it yet. I'll check it out and see if he gives an explanation for the ship's name, and report back here.

The (we got cargo in the Argo....) Curtmudgeon


It's important to note that Argo, the ship, in Greek spell, is also written in Latin fashion as Argus, which I usually adopt. The trouble is that, in Latin, the Greek name of the builder, Argus, is kept without flection, what may cause some confusion. I'm considering to switch to the Greek "Argo", when referring to the ship.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2001-11-29 10:35 ]</font>

The Curtmudgeon
2001-Nov-29, 06:55 PM
Well, I read through Peter Green's introduction to his translation of Apollonios Rhodios [apologies for former mispleling], and read a bit of the first part last night. As Bob and Argus have already pointed out, the ship (spelt 'Argo' in the Greek, as per Argus' post) was named by its builder (spelt 'Argos' in the Greek, and I assume 'Argus' in Latin, as per Argus' post) for himself.

Of course, there are at least a few Argoses in Greek mythology; one, Argos Panopticos or Argos of the Hundred Eyes (actually, "All-Seeing", but he was described as having 100 eyes all over his body), was placed by Hera to watch over the cow-bespelled Io [look! obligatory astronomical reference! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif ] to prevent Zeus from turning her back to human and, er, ahum, having his way with her. He had nothing to do with the legend of Jason and the Argonauts. Also, there was a city named Argos as well.

All of which leads me to question whether 'argos' really means "idle" in Greek or not. While I will not dispute Grapes' post from http://www.dictionary.com, I have found the following from an Ancient Greek Lexicon on-line, Perseus (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0058%3Aentry%3D %234716):


argos<sup>1</sup>

I. shining, bright, glistening, Lat. nitidus, Il.: white, Arist. (Hence come arguros, argi_los.)
II. podas argoi, as epith. of hounds, swift-footed, because all swift motion causes a kind of glancing or flickering light, Hom.


That II definition, at least, provides a more logical sense for a fleet ship, a Greek pentecoster (50-oared galley) as described by Apollonios and others. While the ironic use of names such as "Lazy Daze" or the like is certainly common enough today, it really doesn't "feel" like something the Greeks would do (whatever that might mean! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif ).

[Added note:I checked a couple of Interactive Periodic Table links, and found the following on 'argon' from http://www.resource-world.net/Ar.htm: "Origin of Name: From the Greek word argos (inactive)"; http://www.chemsoc.org/viselements/pages/argon.html agrees with that derivation. That's not too far from "idle" /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif . And that supernumary '1' on the excerpt from the Lexicon I quoted shows that there are other uses of the word with unrelated meanings, which I didn't follow up on. So 'argos' means "inactive" or "dead slow" when talking about gases, but "blindingly fast" when talking about dogs or ships. Go figure. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif ]

Okay, Greek lesson over for today. Tomorrow we discuss the Aztec word for "pizza" and what it has to do with phases of the Moon. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

The (don't I wish) Curtmudgeon

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Curtmudgeon on 2001-11-29 13:57 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Curtmudgeon on 2001-11-29 14:11 ]</font>

Sheesh, I'm finding all kinds of errors in my typing today. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Curtmudgeon on 2001-11-29 14:17 ]</font>

Argos
2001-Nov-29, 08:33 PM
The Curtmudgeon wrote:


So 'argos' means "inactive" or "dead slow" when talking about gases, but "blindingly fast" when talking about dogs or ships. Go figure. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif


Thank you Curt..for saving my day!(woo-hoo!)



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Argos on 2001-11-29 15:36 ]</font>