Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/67

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57
ASTRONOMY WITH AN OPERA-GLASS.

an ordinary opera-glass they are thrown well apart, and present a very pretty sight. The star Beta, or Dabih, is also a double star with a glass magnifying five or six times, the smaller star being of the seventh magnitude and sky-blue in color.

The star Rho (ρ) is a double that will severely test your glass, and. it is useless to undertake to see the companion unless your magnifying power is as much as six times, and the glass of excellent quality.

With the most powerful glass at your disposal, sweep from the star Zeta (ζ) eastward a distance somewhat greater than that separating Alpha and Beta, and you will find a fifth-magnitude star beside a little nebulous spot. This is the cluster known as M 30, one of those sun-swarms that overwhelm the mind of the contemplative observer with astonishment, and especially remarkable in this case for the apparent vacancy of the heavens immediately surrounding the cluster, as if all the stars in that neighborhood had been drawn into the great assemblage, leaving a void around it. Of course, with the instrument that our observer is supposed to be using, merely the existence of this solar throng can be detected; but, if he sees that it is there, he may be led to provide himself with a telescope capable of revealing its glories.

Admiral Smyth remarks that "although Capricorn is not a striking object, it has been the very pet of all constellations with astrologers," and he quotes from an old almanac of the year 1386 that "whoso is borne in Capcorn schal be ryche and wel lufyd." The mythological account of the constellation is that it represents the goat into which Pan was turned in order to escape from the giant Typhon, who once on a time scared all the gods out of their wits, and caused them to change themselves into animals, even Jupiter assuming the form of a ram. According to some authorities, Piscis Australis represents the fish into which Venus changed herself on that interesting occasion.

Directly above Piscis Australis, and to the east or left of Capricorn, the map shows the constellation of Aquarius, or the Water-Bearer. Some say this represents Ganymede, the cup-bearer of the gods. It is represented in old star-maps by the figure of a young man pouring water from an urn. The star Alpha (α) marks his right shoulder, and Beta (ß) his left, and Gamma (γ), Zeta (ζ), Eta (η), and Pi (π) indicate his right hand and the urn. From this group a current of small stars will be recognized, sweeping downward with a curve toward the east, and ending at Fomalhaut; this represents the water poured from the urn, which the Southern Fish appears to be drinking. It is worthy of remark, that in Greek, Latin, and Arabic this constellation bears names all of which signify "a man pouring water." The ancient Egyptians imagined that the setting of Aquarius caused the rising of the Nile, as he sank his huge urn in the water to fill it. Alpha Aquarii was called by the Arabs Sadalmelik, which is interpreted to mean the "king's lucky star," but whether it proved itself a lucky star in war or in love, and what particular king enjoyed its benign in-