mercredi 1 octobre 2008

Cygnus 7

Those deathless odalisques of heaven's hareem,
The Stars, unveil; a lonely cloud is roll'd
Past by the wind, as bears an azure stream
A sleeping swan's white plumage fringed with gold.

Adam Mickiewicz' Polish Evening Hymn.
Cygnus, the Swan,
that modern criticism says should be Cycnus, lies between Draco and Pegasus. The French know it as Cygne; the Italians as Cigno; the Spaniards as Cisne; and the Germans as Schwan.
It was Κύκνος with Eratosthenes, but usually Ὄρνις with other Greeks, by which was simply intended a Bird of some kind, more particularly a Hen; although the ἀιόλος of Aratos may indicate that he had in view the "quickly flying swan"; but, as this Greek adjective also signifies "varied," it is possible that reference was here made to the Bird's position in the Milky Way, in the light and shade of that great circle. With this idea, Brown renders it "spangled." Aratos also described it as ἠρόεις, "dark," especially as to its wings, an error which Hipparchos corrected.
When the Romans adopted the title that we now have, our constellation became the mythical swan identified with Cycnus, the son of Mars, or of the Ligurian Sthenelus; or the brother of Phaëthon, transformed at the river Padus and transported to the sky. While Cygnus was thus prominent in myth and the sky, the swan was especially so in ancient ornithology, and the subject of many fables, where its "hostility" to other birds and to beasts was made much of; but in these Thompson sees astronomical symbolism, as already has been alluded to under Aquila. Associated, too, with Leda, the friend of Jupiter and mother of Castor, Pollux, and Helena, it was classed among the Argonautic constellations, and Helenae Genitor, with other names derived from the well-known legend, was applied to it.
Popularly the constellation was Ales, Avis, and Volucris, a Bird, — Alea Jovis, Ales Ledaeus, and Avis Veneris, — while Olor, another word for the Swan, both ornithological and stellar, has been current even to modern times. Phoebi Assessor is cited by La Lande, the bird being sacred to that deity; and Vultur cadens is found for it, but this was properly Lyra's title. As the bird of Venus it also has been known as Myrtilus, from the myrtle sacred to that goddess; and it was considered to be Orpheus, placed after death in the heavens, near to his favorite Lyre.
Our Cygnus may have originated on the Euphrates, for the tablets show a stellar bird of some kind, perhaps Urakhga, the original of the Arabs' Rukh, the Roc, that Sindbad the Sailor knew. At all events, its present figuring did not originate with the Greeks, for the history of the constellation had been entirely lost to them, as had that of the mysterious Engonasin (Hercules), — an evident proof that they were not the inventors of at least some of the star-groups attributed to them.
In Arabia, although occasionally known as Al Ṭā’ir al Ardūf, the Flying Eagle, Chilmead's Altayr, or as Al Radīf, it usually was Al Dajājah, the Hen, and appears as such even with the Egyptian priest Manetho, about 300 B.C., this degenerating into the Adige, Adigege, Aldigaga, Addigagato, Degige, Edegiagith, Eldigiagich, etc., of early lists, some of these even now applied to its brightest star.
Scaliger's Al Ridhadh, for the constellation, which degenerated to El Rided, perhaps is the origin of our Arided for the lucida (Alpha star, Deneb Adige), but its signification is uncertain, although the word is said to have been found in an old Latin-Spanish-Arabic dictionary for some sweet-scented flower.
Hyde gives Kathā for it, the Arabic Al Kaṭāt, a bird in form and size like a pigeon; indeed, Al Sufi's translator, Schjellerup, defined the latter's title for it, Al Ṭā’ir, as le pigeon de poste; but Al Kaṭāt is now the Arabs' word for a common gallinaceous game-bird of the desert, perhaps the mottled partridge.
The Alfonsine Tables, in the recent Madrid edition, supposed to be a reproduction of the original, illustrate their Galina by a forlorn Hen instead p194of a Swan, with the bungled Arabic title altayr aldigeya, although elsewhere they say Olor: Hyparcus Cygnum vocat; the Arabo-Latin Almagest of 1515 had Eurisim: et est volans; et jam vocatur gallina. et dicitur eurisim quasi redolens ut lilium ab ireo; the Alfonsine Tables of 1521 have Hyresym; et dicitur quasi reddens ut lilium: et est volans: et jam vocatur gallina; Bayer wrote of it, quasi Rosa redolens Lilium; Riccioli, quasi Galli rosa; and contemporaries of this last author wrote Hirezym and Hierizim. Ideler's comments on all this well show the roundabout process by which some of our star-names have originated, and are worthy of quotation entire:
They have, moreover, made use of the translated Greek Ὄρνις, as is shown by the Borgian Globe, on which is written Lūrnis, or Urnis (for the first letter is not connected with the second, so that we have both readings). It is most probable that from this Urnis originated the Eurisim in the foregoing rare title. Probably the translator found in the Arabic original the, to him, foreign word Urnis. He naturally surmised that it was Greek, only he did not know its proper signification. On the other hand, the plant Ἐρύσιμον (Erysimum officinale, Linn.) occurred to him, which the Romans called Ireo (see Pliny, Hist. Nat.), and this recalled the richly scented Iris or Sword Lily (Iris florentina, Linn.), and so, as it seems to me, he traced the thought through a perfectly natural association of ideas to his beautiful Eurisim, quasi redolens ut lilium ab ireo. At the same time I believe I have here struck the trail of the title Albireo, which has never yet been satisfactorily explained. This is given to the star on the beak, — β, — by Bayer and in our charts. It seems to me to be nothing more than the above ab ireo, which came to be turned into an Arabic star-name by means of an interpolated l.
The early Gallina continued in use by astronomers even to the last century.
Cygnus usually is shown in full flight down the Milky Way, the Stream of Heaven, "uppoised on gleaming wings "; but old drawings have it apparently just springing from the ground.
Caesius thought that the constellation represented the Swan in the Authorized Version of, the Timshēmath of the Hebrews; but this is a Horned Owl in the Revision, or may have been an Ibis. Other Christians of his time saw here the Cross of Calvary, Christi Crux, as Schickard had it, Schiller's Crux cum S. Helena; these descending to our day as the Northern Cross, well known to all, and to beginners in stellar observations probably better than by the stars' true title. Lowell was familiar with it, and thus brings it into his New Year's Eve, 1844:

Orion kneeling in his starry niche,
The Lyre whose strings give music audible
To holy ears, and countless splendors more,
Crowned by the blazing Cross high-hung o'er all;

and Smith, in Come Learn of the Stars:

Yonder goes Cygnus, the Swan, flying southward, —
Sign of the Cross and of Christ unto me.

This Cross is formed by α, γ, η, and β, marking the upright along the Galaxy, more than 20° in length, ζ, ε, γ, and δ being the transverse.
These last also were an Arab asterism, Al Fawāris, the Riders; α and κ sometimes being added to the group.
The Chinese story of the Herdsman, or Shepherd, generally told for our Aquila, and of his love for the skilful Spinster, our Lyra, occasionally includes stars in Cygnus.
While interesting in many respects, it is especially so in possessing an unusual number of deeply colored stars, Birmingham writing of this:
A space of the heavens including the Milky Way, between Aquila, Lyra, and Cygnus, seems so peculiarly favored by red and orange stars that it might not inaptly be called the Red Region, or the Red Region of Cygnus.
Argelander locates 146 naked-eye members of the constellation, and Heis 197, its situation in the Galaxy accounting for this density. Of these stars Espin gives a list of one hundred that are double, triple, or multiple. The Lace-work Nebula, NGC 6960, also lies within its borders.
We find among classical authors Ἰκτίνος, Miluus, Milvus, and Mylvius, taken from the Parapegmata, and, even to modern days, supposed to be titles for our Cygnus, Aquila, or some unidentified sky figure; but Ideler showed that by these words reference probably was made to the Kite, the predaceous bird of passage annually appearing in spring, and not to any stellar object.

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