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a small cluster near /3, called Taurus Poniatowskh, An irregular square of four stars, near 7 Herculis, denotes the head of the serpent.
Mythological history.—This constellation perpetuates the memory of iEsculapius, the father of medicine. He was so skilful that he restored several to life; whereupon Pluto complained to Jupiter that his kingdom was in danger of being depopulated. Therefore Jupiter struck him with a thunderbolt, but afterward placed him among the constellations. Serpents were sacred to JSsculapius, because of the superstitious idea that they have the power of renewing their youth by changing their skin.
Libra represents the scales of Astram (Virgo), the goddess of justice. It may be recognized by the quadrilateral figure formed by its four principal stars.
Scorpio is represented under the figure of a huge scorpion, stretching through 25°. It is a most interesting constellation.
Principal stars.—Antares (a) is a fiery red star of the first magnitude. It marks the heart of the Scorpion. The head is indicated by several stars, the most prominent of which is /3, arranged in a line slightly curved. The tail may be easily traced by a series of stars which wind around through the Milky Way in a very beautiful manner.
Mythological history.—This is the scorpion that sprang out of the earth at the command of Juno, and stung Orion. Scorpio and Orion are so placed among the constellations that they never appear in the heavens together.
Sagittarius, the archer, is represented as a centaur with his bow bent, as if about to let fly an arrow at Scorpio.
Principal stars.—A row of stars from /x to /3 marks the bow: another from y eastward points out the arrow and the right arm drawn back in bending the bow. North of r, two stars of the fourth magnitude denote the head of the centaur. The "Milk Dipper" so called because the handle lies in the Milky Way, is a very striking figure.
Mythological history.—This constellation is named in honor of Chiron, one of the centaurs. These monsters were represented as men from the head to the loins, while the remainder of the body was that of a horse—of which animal the ancients had so high an opinion that this union was not considered in the least degrading. Chiron was renowned for his skill in music, medicine, hunting, and the art of prophecy. The most distinguished heroes of mythology were among his pupils. He taught .iEsculapius physic, Apollo music, and Hercules astronomy. At his death, the centaur furnished Dejanira with the information which proved so fatal to Hercules.
Capricomus contains no very conspicuous stars. The Southern Fish (no. 6) has one star of the first magnitude, Fomalhaut (a, No. 7), which on a clear summer evening may be seen in the south midway to the zenith. Antinous And The Eagle is a doable constellation. It contains a beautiful star of the first magnitude, Altair. This is conspicuous, as being the centre one in a row of three bright stars. A similar row, the first star of which is named £, denotes the tail of the eagle, the last star lyingin Cerberus. The Dolphin is a beautiful little cluster in the form of a diamond. It is sometimes called "Job's Coffin."
(Map No. 7)—Fig. TO.
Cygnuft, the swan, is a remarkable group of stars, the principal ones being so arranged as to form a large and beautiful cross. The upright piece lies along the Milky Way. It is composed of four stars, three of which, Deneb (a), y, and /3, are bright, while the fourth is a variable star. In this constellation, No. 61, a minute star, scarcely visible to the naked eye, is noted as being the nearest to the earth i f any of the fixed stars in the northern hemisphere.
Isyra, the harp, contains one brilliant blue star, Vega. Close by it is a parallelogram of four smaller stars, by which it may be easily recognized. This is the celestial lyre upon which Orpheus discoursed such ravishing music that wild beasts forgot their fierceness and gathered about him to listen, while the rivers ceased to flow, and the very rocks and trees stood entranced.
We now imagine ourselves viewing the stars visible only to a person south of the equator. The constellations are reversed with reference to the horizon. The two stars which, in the northern hemisphere, compose the base of the parallelogram in Orion, form here the upper side. Sirius is above Orion. All the northern circumpolar constellations, are bidden from view. At the southern pole there is no conspicuous star, but the richness and number of the neighboring stars compensate this deficiency, and give to the heavens an incomparable splendor. Here is the magnificent constellation Argo, in which we find Canopus, looked upon in ancient times as
next to Sirius in brilliancy: Jj, a variable star, now surpasses it in brightness.
Nearly at the height of the south pole blazes the Southern Cross; below is the Centaur, containing two stars of the first magnitude and five of the second; and above is Hydras, where shines Achernar, another beautiful star of the first magnitude.