lundi 29 septembre 2008

Leo 15

Il petto del lione ardente.
Dante's Paradiso.

α, Triple, 1.7, 8.5, and 13, flushed white and ultramarine.
Regulus was so called by Copernicus, not after the celebrated consul of the 1st Punic war, as Burritt and others have asserted, but as a diminutive of the earlier Rex, equivalent to the Βασιλίσκος of Ptolemy. This was from the belief that it ruled the affairs of the heavens, — a belief current, till three centuries ago, from at least 3000 years before our era. Thus, as Sharru, the King, it marked the 15th ecliptic constellation of Babylonia; in India it was Maghā, the Mighty; in Sogidana, Magh, the Great; in Persia, Miyan, the Centre; among the Turanian races, Masu, the Hero; and in Akkadia it was associated with the 5th antediluvian King-of-the-celestial-sphere, Amil-gal-ur, Ἀμεγάλαρος. A Ninevite tablet has:
If the star of the great lion is gloomy the heart of the people will not rejoice.
In Arabia it was Malikiyy, Kingly; in Greece, βασιλισκός ἀστήρ; in Rome, Basilica Stella; with Pliny, Regia; in the revival of European astronomy, Rex; and with Tycho, Basiliscus.
So, too, it was the leader of the Four Royal Stars of the ancient Persian monarchy, the Four Guardians of Heaven. Dupuis, referring to this Persian character, said that the four stars marked the cardinal points, assigning Hastorang, as he termed it, to the North; Venant to the South; Tascheter to the East; and Satevis to the West: but did not identify these titles with the individual stars. Flammarion does so, however, with Fomalhaut, Regulus, and Aldebaran for the first three respectively, so that we may consider Satevis as Antares. This same scheme appeared in India, although the authorities are not agreed as to these assignments and identifications; but, as the right ascensions are about six hours apart, they everywhere probably were used to mark the early equinoctial and solstitial colures, four great circles in the sky, or generally the four quarters of the heavens. At the time that these probably were first thought of, Regulus lay very near to the summer solstice, and so indicated the solstitial colure.
Early English astrologers made it a portent of glory, riches, and power to all born under its influence; Wyllyam Salysbury, of 1552, writing, but perhaps from Proclus:
The Lyon's herte is called of some men, the Royall Starre, for they that are borne under it, are thought to have a royall nativitie.
And this title, the Lion's Heart, has been a popular one from early classical times, seen in the Καρδία λεόντος of Greece and the Cor Leonis of Rome, and adopted by the Arabians as Al Kalb al Asad, this degenerating into Kalbelasit, Kalbeleced, Kalbeleceid, Kalbol asadi, Calb-elez‑id, Calb-elesit, Calb-alezet, and Kale Alased of various bygone lists. Al Bīrūnī called it the Heart of the Royal Lion, which "rises when Suhail rises in Al Ḥijāz."
Bayer and others have quoted, as titles for Regulus, the strange Tyberone and Tuberoni Regia; but these are entirely wrong, and arose from a misconception of Pliny's Stella Regia appellata Tuberoni in pectore Leonis, rendered "the star called by Tubero the Royal One in the Lion's breast"; Holland's translation reading:
The cleare and bright star, called the Star Royal, appearing in the breast of the signe Leo, Tubero mine author saith.
Naturally sharing the character of its constellation as the Domicilium Solis, in Euphratean astronomy it was Gus-ba-ra, the Flame, or the Red Fire, of the house of the East; in Khorasmia, Achir, Possessing Luminous Rays; and throughout classical days the supposed cause of the summer's heat, a reputation that it shared with the Dog-star. Horace expressed this in his Stella vesani Leonis.
It was of course prominent among the lunar-mansion stars, and chief in the 8th nakshatra that bore its name, Maghā, made up by all the components of the Sickle; and it marked the junction of with the adjoining station Pūrva Phalgunī; the Pitares, Fathers, being the regents of the asterism, which was figured as a House. In Arabia, with γ, ζ, and η of the Sickle, it was the 8th manzil, Al Jabhah, the Forehead. In China, however, the 8th sieu lay in Hydra; but the astronomers of that country referred to Regulus as the Great Star in Heen Yuen, a constellation called after the imperial family, comprising α, γ, ε, η, λ, ζ, χ, ν, ο, ρ, and others adjacent and smaller reaching into Leo Minor. Individually it was Niau, the Bird, and so representative of the whole quadripartite zodiacal group.
In addition to the evidence, from its nomenclature, of the ancient importance of this star is the record, although perhaps questionable, of an observation of its longitude 1985 years before the time of Ptolemy; and of a still earlier one in Babylonia, 2120 B.C., Regulus then being in longitude 92°30ʹ, but now over 148°. Its position, and that of Spica, observed by Hipparchos, when compared with the earlier records are said to have revealed to him the phenomenon of the precession of the equinoxes. It was then in longitude 119°50ʹ. Smyth wrote of it:
The longitude of Regulus has, through successive ages, been made a datum-step by the best astronomers of all nations.
This is the faintest of the so‑called 1st‑magnitude stars, with but 1/13 of the brightness of Sirius. It has a spectrum of the Sirian type, and is approaching the earth at the rate of 5 1/2 miles a second. Elkin has determined its parallax as 0ʺ.089. It lies very close to the ecliptic, almost covered by the sun on the 20th of August; and, as one of the lunar stars, is much observed in navigation. It culminates on the 6th of April.
The companion, about 3ʹ away, described "as if steeped in indigo," was discovered by Winlock to be itself closely double, 3ʺ.3 apart, at a position angle of 88°.5.
β, 2.3, blue.
Denebola — sometimes Deneb — is the modern name for this star, abbreviated from Al Dhanab al Asad, the Lion's Tail, the Greek Ἀλκαία; Bayer gave it as Denebalecid and Denebaleced; Chilmead, as Deneb Alased; and Schickard, as Dhanbol-asadi. Riccioli omitted the first syllable of the original, and called the star Nebolellesed, Nebollassid "of the Nubian astrologers," and Alazet apud Azophi, his title for Al Sufi. Elsewhere it is Nebulasit and Alesit; the Alfonsine Tables have Denebalezeth and the very appropriate Dafira, from the similar Arabic term for the tuft of coarse hair at the end of the tail in which the star lies. Proctor called distant Deneb Aleet, and there may be other degenerated forms of the original. Kazwini cited Al Aḳtāb al Asad, the Viscera of the Lion, or Al Ḳatab, a Small Saddle: inappropriate names, Ideler said, and inferred that they should be Al Ḳalb, which in the course of time might have wandered here from Regulus, the genuine Ḳalb, or Heart, of the Lion.
It marked the 10th manzil, Al Ṣarfah, the Changer, i.e. of the weather, given by Ulug Beg as the star's individual title; and Al Bīrūnī wrote of it: "The heat turns away when it rises, and the cold turns away when it disappears." Chilmead cited Asumpha, which he attributed to Alfraganus; Baily called this Serpha; and Hyde changed it to Mutatrix.
With the 4th‑magnitude Fl. 93, it constituted the 10th nakshatra, Uttara Phalgunī, and was the junction star with the adjacent Hasta; the regents of this and the next asterism, the Pūrva Phalgunī, being the Adityas, Āryaman and Bagha. Al Bīrūnī, however, said that Hindu astronomers pointed out to him a star in Coma Berenices as forming the lunar station with Denebola; and they claimed that the great scientific attainments of Varāha Mihira were due to his birthday having coincided with the entrance of the moon into Uttara Phalgunī.
The Chinese knew it, with four small neighboring stars, as Woo Ti Tso, the Seat of the Five Emperors, surrounded by twelve other groups, variously named after officers and nobles of the empire.
In Babylonian astronomy it marked the 17th ecliptic constellation, Zibbat A., the Tail of the Lion, although Epping gives this with considerable doubt as to its correctness. Other Euphratean titles are said to have been Lamash, the Colossus; Sa, Blue, the Assyrian Samu; and Mikid-isati, the Burning of Fire, which may be a reference to the hot season of the year when the sun is near it.
The Sogdians and Khorasmians had a similar conception of it, as shown in their titles Widhu and Widhayu, the Burning One; but the Persians called it Avdem, the one in the Tail. Hewitt writes of it as, in India, the Star of the Goddess Bahu, the Creating Mother.
With θ, it was the Coptic Asphulia, perhaps the Tail; but Kircher had a similar Ἄσπολια, in Virgo, as from Coptic Egypt.
Denebola was of unlucky influence in astrology, portending misfortune and disgrace, and thus opposed to Regulus in character as in position in the figure.
Its spectrum is Sirian, and it is approaching our system at the rate of about twelve miles a second. It comes to the meridian on the 3d of May, and, with Arcturus and Spica, forms a large equilateral triangle, as also another similar with Arcturus and Cor Carioli, these, united at their bases, constituting the celebrated Diamond of Virgo.
Several small stars, some telescopic, in its immediate vicinity, are the Companions of Denebola.

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