Monday, 28 October 2019

argos navis

By way of a rather glum article on an extinct species of bird related to but far lesser known than the dodo, we are introduced to the concept of superannuated constellations (see previously)—the most veteran being the asterism of the Southern Hemisphere named after Jason and the Argonauts’ ship, itself developed from the Egyptian identification as the Boat of Osiris and named by the classical astronomer Ptolemy as one of the chief forty-eight described in his Almagest.  Due to the large patch of sky it occupied, it Argos Navis was broken up in mid-eighteenth century charts to its constituents parts Puppis (the poop deck or stern), Vela (the sails) and Carina (the hull).
Like a syllabary of obscure and unused emoji characters, there’s quite a listing of obsolete groupings from the century prior, many named by botanist, amateur astrologer and quack John Hill (*1714 – †1775) whose name sadly isn’t inscribed among the stars, much like our dead dodo’s cousin Turdus Solitarius (Rodrigues solitaire). Others that are now dissolved, merged or incorporated into presently accredited constellations, speaking to their age, include Globis Ærostatiscus (the hot air balloon), Dentalium (tooth enamel), Sciurus Volans (flying squirrel), Phœnicopterus (pink flamingo) and Officina Typographica (the printshop). Sadly too none of these fall within the tropics of the Zodiac.