dimanche 5 octobre 2008

Lyra 9

Chrysococca wrote of it as Γυψ καθήμενος, the Sitting Vulture, and it has been Aquila marina, the Osprey, and Falco sylvestris, the Wood Falcon. p283Its common title two centuries ago was Aquila cadens, or Vultur cadens, the Swooping Vulture, popularly translated the Falling Grype, and figured with upturned head bearing a lyre in its beak. Bartsch's map has the outline of a lyre on the front of an eagle or vulture.
Aratos called it Χέλυς ὀλίγη, the Little Tortoise or Shell, thus going back to the legendary origin of the instrument from the empty covering of the creature cast upon the shore with the dried tendons stretched across it. Lowell thus described its discovery and use by Hermes:

So there it lay through wet and dry,
As empty as the last new sonnet.
Till by and by came Mercury,
And, having mused upon it,
"Why, here," cried he, "the thing of things
In shape, material and dimension!
Give it but strings and, lo! it sings —
A wonderful invention."

The equivalent Latin word Chelys does not seem to have been often applied to the constellation, but the occasional adjectival titles Lutaria, Mud-inhabiting, and Marina were, and are, appropriate, while Testudo has been known from classical times. Horace thus alluded to it [Carm. I.32]:

Decus Phoebi, et dapibus supremi
Grata testudo Jovis; O laborum
Dulce lenimen;

the poet doubtless having in mind the current story that the Tortoise-Lyre was placed in the sky near Hercules for the alleviation of his toil. The Alfonsine illustration is of a Turtle, Galapago in the original Spanish, which Caesius turned into the indefinite Belua aquatica, and La Lande into Mus and Musculus, some marine creature, not the little rodent.
Other names were Testa, the creature's Upper Shell; and Pupilla, which, by a roundabout process of continued blundering explained by Ideler, was derived from Testa, or, as seems more likely, from Aquila. Bayer's Βάσανος is probably a mistranslation of Testa that also signified a Test.
Smyth said that another Testudo was at one time proposed as a constellation title for some of the outside stars of Cetus, between the latter's tail and the cord of Pisces.
When the influence of Greek astronomy made itself felt in Arabia, many of the foregoing designations, or adaptations thereof, became current; among them Nablon, from Νάβλα, or Nablium, the Phoenician Harp; Al Lurā, which degenerated into Allore, Alloure, Alohore, Alchoro, etc., found in the Alfonsine Tables and other bygone lists; Shalyāḳ and Sulaḥfāt, words for the Tortoise, Ulug Beg's translator having the former as Shelyāk, which Piazzi repeated in his catalogue; Salibāḳ, which heads Kazwini's chapter on the Lyre; — Ideler tracing these Arabic words to Χέλυς. They were turned into Azulafe and Zuliaca in the original Alfonsine Tables, and Schaliaf in Chilmead's Treatise. The Almagest of 1515 combines all these figures for Lyra's stars in its Allore: et est Vultur cadens: et est Testudo; while that of 1551 says Lyrae Testudo.

But, notwithstanding the singularly diverse conceptions as to its character, the name generally has been Lyra, and the figure so shown. Roman coins still in existence bear it thus, as does one from Delos, Apollo's birthplace in the Cyclades; and Cilician money had this same design with the head of Aratos on the obverse. The Leyden Manuscript has the conventional instrument, with side bars of splendid horns issuing from the tortoise-shell base; the Venetian Hyginus of 1488, with a similar figure, calls it Lura as well as Lyra; but the drawing of Hevelius shows "an instrument which neither in ancient nor in modern times ever had existence." Dürer's illustration, as well as others, places it with the base towards the north.

Lyra is on the western edge of the Milky Way, next to Hercules, with the neck of Cygnus on the east, and contains 48 stars according to Argelander, 69 according to Heis. Its location is noted as one of the various regions of concentration of stars with banded spectra, Secchi's 3d type, showing a stage of development probably in advance of that of our sun.
From near its κ, 5° southwest of Wega, radiate the swiftly moving Lyraids, the meteors which are at their maximum of appearance on the 19th and 20th of April, but visible in lesser degree from the 5th of that month to the 10th of May. These have been identified as followers of the comet 1 of 1861.

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