Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Alternatively, another source says the Romans made it into a separate constellation in the time of Julius Caesar. Since then the Scales of Libra have become regarded as the symbol of justice, held aloft by the goddess of justice, Astraea. One legend identifies Astraea with the neighbouring figure of Virgo.
The two brightest stars, the alpha and beta of the constellation, are called Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali respectively. Zubeneschamali, the northern one of the two, comes from an Arabic phrase meaning "the northern claw," that of the Alpha star meaning "the southern claw”.
The illustration above comes from Alexander Jamieson’s Celestial Atlas which appeared in February 1822, with a second edition following in September that same year. For all the fame that the Atlas achieved, its author remains little known. He evidently had a wide knowledge of science, mathematics and languages, for he wrote a number of educational works on subjects as diverse as cartography, logic, rhetoric, algebra, mechanics and hydrostatics as well as editing a Latin dictionary and running a series of private schools
Jamieson was born in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, west Scotland, in 1782, the son of a wheelwright. He obtained MA and LLD degrees from Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1821 and 1823. In 1825 he became a mature student at St John’s College Cambridge but there is no record that he ever resided there or obtained any degree. In fact, he seems to have spent most of his working life in and around London as a writer, teacher and finally an actuary.
Venus shines bright in the east before long before dawn, and Jupiter is overhead, close to the red giant star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus.