Fomalhaut, from the Arabic Fum al Ḥūt, the Fish's Mouth, has long been the common name for this star, Smyth saying that Fom Alhout Algenubi appears, with its translation Os Piscis Meridiani, in a still existing manuscript almanac of 1340.
Aratos distinctly mentioned it as
One large and bright by both the Pourer's feet,
which is its location in the maps of today, although sometimes it has marked the eye of the Fish, and formerly was still differently placed, as is noted at β.
In addition to putting it in its own constellation, Ptolemy inserted it in his Ὑδροχόος, and Flamsteed followed him in making it his 24 of Piscis Australis and 79 of Aquarius, calling it Aquae Ultima Fomalhaut.
No other star seems to have had so varied an orthography.
The Alfonsine Tables of 1521 locate it in Aquarius as Fomahant and of the 1st magnitude, but they describe it in Piscis Meridionalis as in ore, omitting its title and calling it a 4th‑magnitude. The other editions of these Tables, and Kazwini, do not mention it at all in this constellation, but p346in Aquarius; nor does Bullialdus in his edition of the Rudolphine Tables, although in his reproduction of the Persian Tables of Chrysococca he calls it Os Piscis notii and Fumahaud. The Astronomica Danica of Longomontanus includes it in Aquarius as ultima in effusione Fomahant, giving no Piscis at all; Tycho's Rudolphine Tables, in Kepler's edition of 1627, have the same, and Hevelius also puts it there as Fomahandt. Bayer cites it, in Piscis Notius (Piscis Austrinus), as Fumahant, Fumahaut rectius Fumalhaut; Chilmead, Phom Ahut; Caesius has Fomahand and Fontabant; Riccioli's names for it are Fomauth, Phomaut, Phomault, Phomant, Phomaant, Phomhaut, Phomelhaut; La Caille's, Phomalhaut; La Lande's are Fumalhant, Fomahaut, and Phomahant; and Schickard's, Fomalcuti. Costard gives it as Fomahout; and Sir William Herschel had it Fomalhout, writing to his sister:
Lina,— Lat night I "popt" upon a comet . . . between Fomalhout and β Ceti.
More correctly than all these, Hyde wrote it Pham Al Ḥūt. Burritt's Atlas has the present form Fomalhaut, but his Planisphere, Fomalhani. It generally, but wrongly, is pronounced Fomalo, as though from the French.
The Harleian Manuscript of Cicero's Aratos has the words Stella Canopus at the Fish's mouth, which is either an erroneous title, or another use of the word for any very bright star, as is noted under α Argūs, — Canopus.
Among early Arabs Fomalhaut was Al Difdiʽ al Awwal, the First Frog; and in its location on the Borgian globe is the word Ṭhalīm, the Ostrich, evidently another individual title.
Flammarion says that it was Hastorang in Persia 3000 B.C., when near the winter solstice, and a Royal Star, one of the four Guardians of Heaven, sentinels watching over other stars; while about 500 B.C. it was the object of sunrise worship in the temple of Demeter at Eleusis; and still later on, with astrologers, portended eminence, fortune, and power.
The Chinese knew it as Pi Lo Sze Mun.
With Achernar and Canopus it made up Dante's Tre Facelle; and sixty years ago, Boguslawski thought that it might be the Central Sun of the Universe.
It lies in about 30°15' of south declination, and so is the most southerly of all the prominent stars visible in the latitude of New York City, but it is in the zenith of Chile, the Cape of Good Hope, and South Australia. To the uninstructed observer it seems a full 1st‑magnitude, perhaps from the absence of near-by stars. It culminates on the 25th of October. As one of the so-called lunar stars it is of importance in navigation, and appears in the Ephemerides of all modern sea-going nations.
See calls its color white, and has discovered a 14.8 bluish companion 30ʺ away, at a position angle of 36°.2.
β, Double, 4.3 and 8.
Al Tizini knew this, instead of α, as Fum al Ḥūt, — evidence either of a different figuring of the constellation from that of Ptolemy, which we follow, or of its extension towards the northeast by the Arabian astronomers. This may account for the location of Fomalhaut in Aquarius by some early authors.
With δ and ζ it was the Chinese Tien Kang, the Heavenly Rope.
Al Tizini mentioned the stars, now γ, α, and β of Grus, as the Tail, the Bright One, and the Rear One of the Fish, — additional proof that our lucida of Piscis Australis was not his nāʼir of Al Ḥūt al Janūbiyy.
ν, θ, ι, and μ were Tien Tsien, Heavenly Cash.
Bayer's lettering extended only to μ, and there seems to be no star lettered κ in the constellation.