Monday 9 September 2019

jupiter v

Suggested as a good base of operations for exploration of its host world due to its proximity and near synchronised orbit and discovered on this day in 1892, Amalthea—the third moon of the jovian gas giant (see also here and here)—was the first natural satellite identified since Galilean quartet in 1610 and the last by direct observation.
Its discoverer Edward Emerson Barnard (*1857 - 1923, the same astronomer of the namesake star) following the established convention for Jupiter‘s constellation named it after the goat nymph that nursed infant Zeus, secreted away from his murderous father Cronus and the epithet meaning tender goddess in Greek. Still a baby and not realising his supernatural strength, Zeus accidentally broke off one of the horns of his foster mother, rendering her the first unicorn—a conceit echoed by later storytellers.  Placed among the stars in Capra, not to be conflated with the zodiacal sign, her broken horn became the cornucopia.  The designation did not become official until it was formally adopted (to replace the above) in 1976 ahead of the moon‘s rendezvous with the Voyager space probes.