History of the Constellations

Stars and Constellations

Argo Navis

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Contents of this page: | Description | Modern Culture | Origin and History | Special Stars | Submit new info... |

Images (at bottom of page): | Hyginus, 1482, page F2v: (Figure 1) | Bayer, 1661, page zQq: (Figure 2) | Bayer, 1697, page M4r: (Figure 3) | Bayer, 1697, page M4v: (Figure 4) | Bayer, 1697, page N1r: (Figure 5) | Bayer, 1697, page N1v: (Figure 6) | Bode, 1801, page l: (Figure 7) | Bode, 1801, page r: (Figure 8) | Bode, 1801, page r: (Figure 9) | Images digitized by Hannah Magruder.

Constellation Data

  • Name: Argo Navis
  • Translation: The Ship Argo
  • Abbreviation: Argo
  • Regions: Southern Southern.
  • Located between: Antlia, Carina, Centaurus, Chamaeleon, Musca

Description

This huge southern constellation was one of the 48 constellations (there are now 88) described by the great ancient astronomer Ptolemy in his Almagest. Argo Navis is the only constellation listed by Ptolemy not used today.

It was the ship which Argus built for Jason and his crew, the Argonauts, to carry them on their quest for the Golden Fleece. After their many adventures, Athena raised their ship to the sky.

In the 18th century the French astronomer Lacaille dismantled Argo Navis into three smaller constellations, Carina the Keel, Puppis the Stern or Poop, and Vela the Sail, with small Pyxis the Compass located nearby.

To view Argo Navis you’ll need to sail to Australia or South America; only Puppis becomes visible to observers in the US. See these constellation pages for descriptions of special stars and objects in this area.

Skylore and Literature

Modern Culture

Origin and History

Argo Navis is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.

Special Stars

Canopus, once alpha-Argus, now in Carina.

Submit new info...

Many excellent websites provide a variety of information about constellations for amateur astronomers and telescope users (see sidebar links for a few of these). These constellation pages are not intended to duplicate those efforts, but are devoted to two aims: First, they are intended to assist the beginning skywatcher, including students in history of science survey courses, in becoming familiar with Basic Celestial Phenomena (BCP). Second, these pages are devoted to the history of the constellations and the history of astronomy. They are intended to serve as a repository for collaborative use and reference. Do you have additional historical information about the stars or constellation described on this page? Please submit additional information to kmagruder@ou.edu. Submissions will be attributed. Editors for historical information are Kerry Magruder, JoAnn Palmeri, Peter Barker, and Laura Gibbs.

Oklahoma History of Science exhibits: http://hos.ou.edu/exhibits/. Page revised 4/15/04

Bad links, misplaced images, or questions? Contact Kerry Magruder. Thank you.

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown. But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." R. W. Emerson, Nature

Images

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Hyginus, 1482

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Bayer, 1661

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bode, 1801

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Bode, 1801

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Figure 9 Figure 9 - Return to Text

Bode, 1801

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder.

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These teaching resources provided by the History of Science Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Unless otherwise indicated, all images courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries. Image Terms of Use.

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