α, 2.3, yellow.
Hamal, from the constellation title, was formerly written Hamel, Hemal, Hamul, and Hammel; Riccioli having Ras Hammel from Al Rās al Ḥamal, the Head of the Sheep.
Burritt's El Nāṭh, from Al Nāṭiḥ, the Horn of the Butting One, is appropriate enough for this star, but in our day is given to β Tauri; still Burritt had authority for it, as Kazwini, Al Tizini, Ulug Beg, and the Arabic globes all used the word here; and Chaucer wrote, in 1374:
He knew ful wel how fer Alnath was shove ffro the heed of thilke fixe Aries above.
The title of the whole figure also is seen in Arietis, another designation for this star, as was often the case with many of the lucidae of the constellations.
In Ptolemy's and Ulug Beg's descriptions it was "over the head"; but both of these mentioned Hipparchos as having located it over the muzzle, and near to that feature it was restored by Tycho, in the forehead, as we now have it.
Renouf identified it with the head of the Goose supposed to be one of the early zodiacal constellations of Egypt.
Strassmaier and Epping, in the Astronomisches aus Babylon, say that there its stars formed the third of the twenty-eight ecliptic constellations, — Arku-sha-rishu‑ku, literally the Back of the Head of Ku, — which had been established along that great circle millenniums before our era; and Lenormant quotes, as an individual title from cuneiform inscriptions, Dil-kar, the Proclaimer of the Dawn, that Jensen reads As‑kar, and others Dil‑gan, the Messenger of Light. George Smith inferred from the tablets that it might be the Star of the Flocks; while other Euphratean names had been Lu‑lim, or Lu‑nit, the ram's Eye; and Si‑mal or Si‑mul, the Horn Star, which came down even to late astrology as the Ram's Horn. It also was Anuv, and had its constellation's titles I‑ku and I‑ku‑u, — by abbreviation Ku, — the Prince, or the Leading One, the ram that led the heavenly flock, some of its titles at a different date being applied to Capella of Auriga.
Brown associates it with Aloros, the first of the ten mythical kings of Akkad anterior to the Deluge, the duration of whose reigns proportionately coincided with the distances apart of the ten chief ecliptic stars beginning with Hamal, he deduces from this kingly title the Assyrian Ailuv, and the Hebrew Ayil; the other stars corresponding to the other mythical kings being Alcyone, Aldebaran, Pollux, Regulus, Spica, Antares, Algedi, Deneb Algedi, and Scheat.
p81 The interesting researches of Mr. F. C. Penrose on orientation in Greece have shown that many of its temples were pointed to the rising or setting of various prominent stars, as we have seen to be the case in Egypt; this feature in their architecture having doubtless been taken by the receptive, as well as "somewhat superstitious," Greeks from the Egyptians, many of whose structures are thought to have been so oriented six or seven millenniums before the Christian era, although our star Hamal was not among those observed on the Nile, for precession had not yet brought it into importance. Of the Grecian temples at least eight, at various places and of dates ranging from 1580 to 360 B.C., were oriented to this star; those of Zeus and his daughter Athene being especially thus favoured, as Aries was this god's symbol in the sky.
It was perhaps this prevalence of temple orientation, in addition to their many divinities and especially ὁ Ἄγνωστος Θεός, the Unknown God, which furnished an appropriate text for Saint Paul's great sermon on the Areopagus to the "men of Athens," when, in order to prove our source of being from Him, he quoted, as in Acts xvii.28, from the celebrated fifth verse of the Phainomena:
τοῦ γάρ καί γένος ἐσμίν2
(For we are also his offspring).
To this work this quotation is generally ascribed, and naturally so, for the poet and apostle were fellow-countrymen from Cilicia; but the same words are found in the Hymn to Jupiter by Cleanthes the Stoic, 265 B.C. As Saint Paul, however, used the plural τίνες in his reference, "certain even of your own poets," he may have had both of these authors in mind.
Hamal lies but little north of the ecliptic, and is much used in navigation in connection with lunar observations. It culminates on the 11th of December.
Vogel finds it to be in approach to our system at the rate of about nine miles a second. Its spectrum is similar to that of the sun.
β, 2.9, pearly white.
Sharatan and Sheratan are from Al Sharaṭain, the dual form of Al Sharaṭ, a Sign, referring to this and γ, the third star in the head, as a sign of the opening year; β having marked the vernal equinox in the days of Hipparchos, about the time when these stars were named. Bayer's Sartai is from this dual word.
These were the 1st manzil in Al Bīrūnī's list, the earlier 27th, but some added α to the combination, calling it Al Ashrāṭ in the plural; Hyde saying that λ also was included. Al Nāṭiḥ was another name for this lunar station, as the chief components are near the horns of Aries.
β and γ constituted the 27th nakshatra Açvini, the Ashwins, or Horsemen, the earlier dual Açvināu and Açvayujāu, the Two Horsemen, corresponding to the Gemini of Rome, but figured as a Horse's Head. α sometimes was added to this lunar station, but β always was the junction star with the adjoining Bharani. About 400 years before our era this superseded Krittikā as leader of the nakshatras. They were the Persian Padevar, the Protecting Pair; the Sogdian Bashish, the Protector; and the equivalent Coptic Pikutorion; while in Babylonia, according to Epping, they marked the second ecliptic constellation Marhū-sha-rishu‑ku, the Front of the Head of Ku.
α, β, and γ were the corresponding sieu Leu, or Low, the Train of a garment, β being the determinant.
γ, Double, 4.5 and 5, bright white and gray,
has been called the First Star in Aries, as at one time nearest to the equinoctial point.
Its present title, Mesarthim, or Mesartim, has been connected with the Hebrew Mᵋshārᵋtīm, Ministers, but the connection is not apparent; and Ideler considered the word an erroneous deduction by Bayer from the name of the lunar station of which this and β were members. In Smyth's index it is Mesartun; and Caesius had Scartai from Sharaṭain. α, β, and γ may have been the Jewish Shalisha, — more correctly Shālīsh, — some musical instrument of triangular shape, a title also of Triangulum. And they formed one of the several Athāfiyy, Trivets or Tripods; this Arabic word indicating the rude arrangement of three stones on which the nomad placed his kettle, or pot, in his open-air kitchen; others being in our Draco, Orion, Musca, and Lyra.
Gamma's duplicity was discovered by Doctor Robert Hooke while following the comet of 1664, when he said of it, "a like instance to which I have not else met in all the heaven";3 but it was an easy discovery , for the components are 8ʺ.8 apart, readily resolved by a low-power.
The position angle has been about 0º for fifty years.