History of the Constellations

Stars and Constellations

Canis Major

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

Images (at bottom of page): | Canis Major Chart: (Figure 1) | Hyginus, 1482, page F1v: (Figure 2) | Bayer, 1661, page zOo: (Figure 3) | Bayer, 1697, page M2v: (Figure 4) | Bayer, 1697, page M3r: (Figure 5) | Bayer, 1697, page M3v: (Figure 6) | Bode, 1801, page l: (Figure 7) | Bode, 1801, page r: (Figure 8) | Aspin, 1825, page CanisMajor: (Figure 9) | Images digitized by Hannah Magruder.

Constellation Data

Description

South of Orion in the Winter Hexagon, near the horizon. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.

Skylore and Literature

One of Orion’s two faithful dogs, following him across the sky. Sirius, called Sothis or the Dog Star, was significant in Egyptian mythology, and its heliacal rising signalled the start of the Egyptian year in the third millenium B.C. This constellation has been associated with several mythical dogs, including the hound of Actaeon.

Modern Culture

Origin and History

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

Asterisms

Winter Hexagon

Special Stars

Sirius takes its name from the Greek work for Scorching. In Middle Earth, Sirius was known as Helluin (ice-blue), Nielluin, Niellune, or Nierninwa (tear- or bee-blue). (Rachel Magruder)

Star Clusters

M41 (Galactic cluster), mag. 5.0.

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

Figure 1 Figure 1 - Return to Text

CMa Chart
Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

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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Bode, 1801

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Bode, 1801

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Figure 9 Figure 9 - Return to Text

Aspin, 1825

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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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