mercredi 1 octobre 2008

Delphinus 9

α, 4, pale yellow; β, Binary, 4 and 6, greenish and dusky.

The strange names Sualocin and Rotanev first appeared for these stars in the Palermo Catalogue of 1814, and long were a mystery to all, and p201seemingly a great puzzle to Smyth, which he perhaps never solved, although he was very intimate with the staff of the Palermo Observatory. Webb, however, discovered their origin by reversing the component letters, and so reading Nicolaus Venator, the Latinized form of Niccolo Cacciatore, the name of the assistant and successor of Piazzi. But Miss Rolleston, in her singular book Mazzaroth, considered in some quarters as of authority, wrote that they are derived, α from the

Arabic Scalooin, swift (as the flow of water);

and β from the

Syriac and Chaldee Rotaneb, or Rotaneu, swiftly running (as water in the trough).

For no part of this scholarly (!) statement does there seem to be the least foundation. Burritt gave these titles as Scalovin and Rotanen, This offers us a nice pair of cautionary morals:
1. Before inventing something and passing it off as truth, make sure it's completely unverifiable. Mind you, there is almost nothing that cannot be checked: like Frances Rolleston, you will eventually be caught out, and from there on for the rest of time be branded as a fool or a liar, or both. (If on the other hand you are a presumably well-intentioned scholar like the hapless Burritt or Johann Bayer of the Uranometria so often pilloried by Allen, rely as little as you can on secondary sources, and check your facts and your spelling; don't let your printer establish your reputation.)
2. Conversely, readers beware, there's a lot of falsehood and downright lies out there, not magically transmuted into truth by being committed to print or slithering onto a widely known website.
But there's also a sort of a sequel in Navi, Dnoces and Regor, three star names that memorialize the astronauts who died in the 1967 Apollo fire; see the interesting article at The asteroids in their multitudes have proven an even more fertile field for fancies of this order; but even the rather tightly controlled nomenclature of planetary features has not been immune.
α may be variable to the extent of half a magnitude in fourteen days.
β is a very close pair, 0ʺ.68 apart in 1897, at a position angle of 357°, with the rapid orbital period of about twenty-six years. Another companion, purple in color and of the 11th magnitude, 6ʺ away, has lately been discovered by See, and so β may be ternary; while two other stars of the 10th and 13th magnitudes are about 30ʺ away.
γ is a beautiful double of 4th and 5th magnitudes, 11ʺ apart, with a position angle of 270°; but, if binary, their motion is extremely slow. The components are golden and bluish green, and a fine object for small glasses.
ε, a 4th‑magnitude, although lying near the dorsal fin of our present figure, bears the very common name Deneb, from Al Dhanab al Dulfīm, the Dolphin's Tail. But in Arabia it also was Al ʽAmūd al Ṣalīb, as marking the Pillar of the Cross. In China it was Pae Chaou, the Rotten Melon.
The comparative brilliancy of β, γ, δ, and ε has been variously estimated — a fact which the observations of Gould at Albany in 1858, and at Cordoba in 1871‑74, prove to be occasioned by variability, within moderate limits, of all four.

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