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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/393

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383
CHAPTERS ON THE STARS.

longitudes and latitudes of Ptolemy, the former being increased by 12° 42' on account of the precession during the interval between his time and that to which Ptolemy's catalogue was reduced. The translator says of his work that it gives a description of the starry heavens at the time of the author and is worthy of the highest confidence. The main body of the work consists of a detailed description of each constellation, mentioning the positions and appearances of the stars which it contains. Here we find the Arabic names of the stars, which were not, however, used as proper names, but seem rather to have been Arabic words representing some real or supposed peculiarity of the separate stars, or arbitrarily applied to them.

Four centuries later arose the celebrated Ulugh Beigh, grandson of Tamerlane, who reigned at Samarcand in the middle of the fifteenth century. Bailey says of him: "Ulugh Beigh was not only a warlike and powerful monarch, but also an eminent promoter of the sciences and of learned men. During his father's lifetime he had attracted to his capital all the most celebrated astronomers from different parts of the world; he erected there an immense college and observatory, in which above a hundred persons were constantly occupied in the pursuits of science, and caused instruments to be constructed of a better form and greater dimensions than any that had hitherto been used for making astronomical observations."

His fate was one which so enlightened a promoter of learning little deserved; he was assassinated by the order of his own son, who desired to succeed him on his throne; and in order to make his position the more secure, also put his only brother to death. A catalogue of the stars bears the name of this monarch; he is supposed to have made many or most of the observations on which it is founded. Posterity will be likely to suppose that a sovereign used the eyes of others more than his own in making the observations. However this may be, his catalogue seems to have been the first in which the positions of the stars given by Ptolemy were carefully revised. He found that there were twenty-seven of Ptolemy's stars too far south to be visible at Samarcand, and that eight others, although diligently looked after, could not be discovered. It is curious that, like Al-Sufi, he does not seem to have added any new stars to Ptolemy's list.

Next in the order of time comes the work of Bayer, whose method of naming the stars has already been described. The main feature of this work consists of maps of all the constellations. Previous to his time, celestial globes, made especially for the use of the navigator, took the place of maps of the stars. The first edition of this book was published in 1603, and is distinguished by the fact that a list of stars in each constellation is printed on the backs of the maps. Bayer did not confine