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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/389

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379
CHAPTERS ON THE STARS.

used. In several catalogues since Bayer, new italic letters have been added by various astronomers. Sometimes these have met with general acceptance, and sometimes not.

Flamsteed was the first Astronomer Royal in England, and observed at Greenwich from 1666 to 1715. Among his principal works is a catalogue of stars in which the positions are given with greater accuracy than had been attained by his predecessors. He slightly altered the Bayer system by introducing numbers instead of Greek letters. This had the advantage that there was no limit to the number of stars which could be designated in each constellation. He assigned numbers to all the brighter stars in the order of their right ascension, irrespective of the letters used by Bayer. These numbers are extensively used to the present day, and will doubtless continue to be the principal designations of the stars to which they refer. It is very common in our modern catalogues to give both the Bayer letter and the Flamsteed number in the case of Bayer stars.

The catalogues by Flamsteed do not include quite all the stars visible to the naked eye, but various uranometries have been published which were intended to include all such stars. In such cases the designations now used frequently correspond to the numbers given in the uranometries of Bode, Argelander and Heis.

In recent times these uranometries have been supplemented by censuses of the stars, which are intended to include all the stars to the ninth or tenth magnitude. I shall speak of these in the next section; at present it will suffice to say that stars are very generally designated by their place in such a census.

There is still here and there some confusion both as to the boundaries of the constellations and as to the names of a few of the stars in them. I have already remarked that, in drawing the imaginary boundaries on a star map, as representing the celestial sphere, different astronomers have placed the lines differently. One of the regions in which this is especially true is in the neighborhood of the north pole, where some astronomers place stars in the constellation Cepheus which others place in Ursa Minor. Hence in the Bayer system the same star may have different names in different catalogues. Again, in extending the names or numbers, some astronomers use names which others de not regard as authorative. The remapping of the southern constellation by Dr. Gould changed the boundaries of most of the southern constellations in a way already mentioned.

I have spoken of the subdivision of the great constellation Argus into four separate ones. Bayer having assigned to the principal stars in this constellation the Greek letters α, β, γ, etc., the general practice among astronomers since the subdivision has been to continue the designation of the stars thus marked as belonging to the constellation