4408145The Music of the Spheres — Chapter VIII.Florence Armstrong Grondal




Spica Formalhaut
Antares Sirius

With the exception of the stars in the constellation of Orion,—Spica, Antares, Formalhaut and Sirius are the only stars of the first magnitude south of the celestial equator which are visible from any point in the United States. The Orion stars are winter stars and will be taken up in the chapter to follow, but these four stars, each of which in turn looms lonesomely in the south, are representatives of the seasons, and their very names, Spica, Antares, Formalhaut and Sirius, bring to mind successively, spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Spica, the "Spring Star," rises at sunset on the 10th of April and crosses the meridian during the early evenings of April, May and June. Its beautiful silvery-white flame first appears just a little south of east and it takes only 5 hours and 25 minutes to cover half of its arc across the sky. It is then a little less than half way up from the horizon and hangs on the same curve from the Big Dipper's handle as Arcturus.

Antares rises at sunset on the first of June and passes the meridian early in the evening during June and July. It rises farther south of east than Spica and takes only 4 hours and 23 minutes to reach the meridian. It is then only one-quarter of the way up from the horizon. Being a brilliantly red star in a conspicuous anchor-like constellation near the Milky Way, it is very easy to locate.

Formalhaut rises at sunset about the 10th of October and reaches the meridian about 4 hours later. It first appears in the southeast and skims in a short arc closer to the horizon than any other first magnitude star.

Sirius rises in the southeast about 9 o'clock on the first of December, but anyone wishing to see this magnificent star during the summer months should look toward the east about 4 o'clock in the morning on the 16th of August. In 5 hours and 3 minutes this star reaches the meridian, one-third of the way up from the horizon. Sirius is the largest and loveliest star in the sky, possessing such a vivacious character combined with a sparkling, diamond-like beauty, that it is a delight to every eye that beholds it.


The constellation of Virgo, in which Spica is found, is easily recognized by its brilliant white star and its large V or corner of five stars which marks off the upper portion. The Arabian astronomers called the corner "The Kennel" or "The Retreat of the Howling Dog." Just beyond the Kennel gleams the star-dust on Berenice's Hair, and above this sprinkling of minute stars, howl the furious hounds of Boötes struggling madly to pounce upon the Bear.

A most remarkable nebulous region lies within the triangular corner of Virgo, although the nebulæ are very faint and only visible through a large telescope. Nebulæ as a class are found in abundance in the vicinity of the north pole of the galaxy, which lies in the constellation Coma Berenices, this corner alone containing almost 300, although they are rarely found along the path of the Milky Way.

The yellow 3rd magnitude star on the upper end of the corner in Virgo has for many ages been called Vindemiatrix, which means "Grape-Gatherer." It is believed that the star was given this curious name because it was observed to rise before the sun in the season in which grapes ripened. Vindemiatrix has a minute distant companion of a deep red color. The star at the other end of the corner has the interesting name of Zavijava, while the point is noted as a binary having a period of 185 years.

Spica, the "jewel of the Virgin," is best located by dropping an imaginary line through Arcturus from the handle of the Big Dipper. It rises about an hour later than Arcturus (who first appears at sunset during the latter part of March), and travels in a curve through the south. These two stars contrast beautifully as they swing through the sky like gold and silver globes of fire strung on an invisible thread. A tale current among ancient people was that Virgo, the Virgin, was once Astræa, Goddess of Purity and Justice, who lived on earth during the Golden Age when all men were happy. During the Silver Age contentment still prevailed and the Gods lingered although men were less perfect and the world less tranquil. When the Bronze Age was ushered in men became so inferior that the work of Astræa's office was ignored and she fled in sorrow to the sky.

"Even so long as the earth still nurtured the Golden Race, she had her dwelling on earth. But with the Silver Race only a little and no longer with utter readiness did she mingle—

"When the Bronze Race was born she loathed them for they forged the sword of the highwayman, ate the flesh of the plowing ox and engaged in strife and discord."

Aratus (Trans. C. R. Mair).

Somehow the goodness and purity of Astræa were incorporated in one beautiful star called Spica, and this star shone with such exceeding whiteness that the whole constellation became Virgo, the Virgin. The pictures drawn on the maps vision a goddess with wings carrying a palm branch in one hand and an ear of wheat in the other. In some of the older maps, the goddess carries a balance or a pair of golden scales with which to weigh the fate of mortals, but this is now a separate constellation—Libra, the Scales—lying to the east of Virgo. In classic days, the two bright stars which mark the Scales were on the claws of the Scorpion which were then pictured as more extended.

The ancient people worshiped the constellation of Virgo with its beautiful white star, and, even as a quiet prayer may be said in music instead of in words, the purity of Spica seemed to glow like a benediction upon their revering hearts.

Even to the modern world, the springtime loveliness of this large and beautiful star is refreshing. But we are wont to gaze upon it more with awe than reverence for science tells us that it is not only one white star but two, the mass of each being much greater than that of our sun. These two stars are only 11,000,000 miles apart and whirl around their common center of gravity in the amazingly short period of only four days!

Such is the jewel found on the Virgin's ear of wheat, although the myths do not all agree that Virgo is Astræa.

"Whether she be the daughter of Astræus, who, men say, was of old the father of the stars, or the child of other sire, untroubled be her course."


However, they all do seem to agree that the constellation is connected in some way with the thought of harvests.

Virgo was early identified as the Egyptian Isis who dropped an ear of wheat as she fled from the monster Typhon when he appeared around the Nile. As a result the wheat was scattered in a wide path along the heavens which is now called the Milky Way. Among other characters, Virgo has been regarded as Ceres, the Goddess of the Harvests, and even as Ceres' daughter Proserpine. Plutarch seems to think that the Greeks are indebted to the Egyptians for their story of Ceres. Thus the Egyptian Isis would be Ceres, or Demeter. Isis also taught the use of corn which once stood neglected in the fields. The story of Ceres and Proserpine is particularly beautiful and deserves a place in every one's thoughts. One cannot have too many associations as he gazes at the starry skies, for each bit of even ancient gossip added to modern facts increases the pleasure in knowing different stars. This is particularly true if one does not own a telescope of any kind, indispensable as it may be to an astronomer.

The temple of Ceres, or Demeter, meaning "Mother Earth" (that is, not the whole solid earth, but the portion that produces vegetation), stands in the sacred city of Eleusis, on the Thracian plain, and all men who earn their living by the soil come here to do her honor. This temple was built on the spot where the Goddess met Triptolemus and taught him the use of grains, also how to plow, sow the seeds and gather the crops after they had ripened. Triptolemus then went forth and taught the nations of the world.

One day while Ceres was watching the harvests, Proserpine, her lovely daughter, disappeared.

"While like a child with busy speed and care
She gathers lilies here, and vi'lets there;
While first to fill her little lap she strives,
Hell's grizzly monarch at the shade arrives.
See's her thus sporting on the flow'ry green
And loves the blooming maid as soon as seen."

"Swift as a thought he seized the beauteous prey
And bore her in his sooty car away."
Ovid's Metamorphoses (Maynwaring's Trans.)

Pluto, it seems, had come above the ground to survey the surface of the Sicilian land, for the roof of his kingdom had been considerably shaken on account of the struggles of the giant Typhon confined beneath the roots of Mount Etna. Poets claim that no sooner had the Underground God appeared than Cupid, the mischievous son of Venus, pulled a gold-tipped arrow from his sheath, and laughing gleefully, shot the gloomy monarch in the heart.

Ceres, in the meantime, nearly frantic with grief, searched over land and sea for her lost daughter, and when night fell, so that her search might not be hindered, she tore up young pine trees by the roots and dipped them in the fires of Mount Etna. She could not eat, saying (as Tennyson puts it) that the "nectar smack'd of hemlock" and the "rich ambrosia tasted aconite," while ancient poets claim that neither Aurora, the Dawn, nor Hesperus, the Evening Star, ever saw her rest. Yet unweakened by fatigue and lack of sustenance, the goddess turned to the earth and forbade it to bear until Proserpine was returned to her.

When Ceres discovered that the King of the somber, joyless region under the ground had carried off Proserpine and made her the Queen of his Shades, she left the home of the gods in anger and went to live among mankind. Jupiter at last becoming fearful for the fate of man if earth no longer bore fruit or grain, sent Mercury down to inquire of Pluto if there was any hope of Proserpine's return. The Fates sent reply that if Proserpine had not tasted the pomegranate, the food of death, she could not be detained, otherwise she must remain forever. Ascalaphus then stepped forward and said that he had seen the Queen eat some of the seeds of this fruit,—for which tattling he was turned into a screech owl. Jupiter, pitying Ceres in her disappointment, succeeded in effecting a compromise by inducing his brother to allow Proserpine to spend six months of every year with her mother. This, the Greeks say, is the cause of summer and winter.

When Proserpine appears, Ceres commands the seeds, also, to force their way above the ground, the orchards become bright with a wealth of blossoms and the fields fresh with sprouts and vines. Ceres then is happy and the world a busy, beautiful place in which to live, but when Proserpine leaves, she cares not what happens, and the earth grows withered and drear. Of all the myths, Virgo seems the most charming when identified as Proserpine. Watch for the white flame of Spica as it rises just south of east on the 10th of April, for Spica shines on the ear of wheat in the hand of Ceres' daughter and is a symbol of the coming spring.


The red star Antares lies on the heart of the Scorpion and stands out conspicuously with a bright star on either side.

In Greek legend this is the same Scorpion which so frightened Phæthon, rash child of the Sun-god, when he was driving his father's chariot along the zodiac. The headstrong youth had experienced trouble enough in passing by the ferocious Nemean Lion, and he was just getting a free breath while driving by the Virgin and the Scales when he came to this terrifying creature sprawled along and almost blocking the sky path. Unable to longer control either himself or his excited horses, Phæthon turned the steeds aside and blazed a new pathway, which soon grew cold and left a gray ash across the sky. The strip burned out by the scorching heat of the chariot may still be seen at night and is claimed by some to be the Milky Way.

There is still another legend which tells how the scorpion came to be a constellation. In ancient Greece there was once a mighty hunter named Orion. Armed with only a club, this powerful and handsome giant was able to conquer any beast in the world but, unfortunately, he boasted so continuously that Juno resolved to teach him a lesson. One day while he was battling with a monster in a swamp, a poisonous scorpion slipped up and stung him on the heel. The wound proved fatal, although he was afterward given a constellation as if in atonement for the rather mean advantage taken of so brave a hunter.

"The vast Orion thus he doomed to die,
And fix'd him, his proud trophy, in the sky."
Lucan's Pharsalia.

But the scorpion was also honored in the same way, only he travels across the sky in the summer months while Orion is seen during the winter. Thus the two are considerately placed so that they do not shine above the earth in the same season.

"And so 'tis said that when the Scorpion comes
Orion flies to the utmost ends of the earth."

The constellation of the Scorpion lies southeast of Libra, the Scales, and is the ninth and most brilliant in the zodiac. The gigantic and clearly marked star design on his figure shows that the creature's head and outstretched claws extend upward and toward the west; the upraised tail, curving through the Milky Way and close to the horizon, lies south and eastward; while his feet touch the fainter stars to the right and left. In the vicinity of his heart lies a star so large and red and beautiful that it was named "Antares," which means "the rival of Ares" (the planet Mars). This star so impressed the ancient people of Greece that they built a temple in honor of it, where they might gaze upon it in solitude and worship it as if it were enthroned. This temple is one of the oldest found in Greece.

Pease, with the aid of the interferometer on the great 101-inch telescope on Mount Wilson, has measured the diameter of Antares and has found it to be a very enormous red sun. This figure taken in connection with the best determined value of its distance, indi

cates that its diameter is four hundred million miles! The volume of this star is therefore about twenty-five million times as great as the volume of our sun. As far as we know, this is the largest star. This is surely most interesting. We might have imagined these gloriously tinted stars as small-sized novelties scattered about the heavens for our special edification—certainly we did not expect to find that some of them were so tremendously large that they would pass by our little golden orb as a speck of incandescent sand.

Not only is Antares of interest because of its great size and charming color but it also possesses a companion star of the vividest shade of green. This companion was first noted during an occultation in 1819, quite amazing its observer by sliding out from behind the moon just before the large red star emerged and dimmed its light by its powerful ruddy rays. The green-hued star is very tiny in comparison to Antares and may only be seen with the aid of a 5- or 6-inch telescope. Under good atmospheric conditions it is a very beautiful object.

The flame-red sun Antares beside its woodsy-green companion is one of the most impressive color combinations among the stars. Imagine living on a planet whose orbits encompassed such ostentatious stars! A green sunrise with a livid sky and a red sunset with a scarlet one—then a red sunrise and a green sunset—if colors affect one the way it is sometimes said that they do, the inhabitants of such a planet might live through "red hours" and "green hours" like "Dr. Jekylls" and "Mr. Hydes."

What a surprise to the eye and a delectable bit for the imagination are the blue, gold, green, rose, lilac, purple and other fires in the sun-lit sky. Here is something "as rare as a day in June." It would seem as if the whole solar system were enchanted if we might visit the planets of a white and sapphire blue sun, for instance, or those of one of topaz-yellow and heliotrope hue. On the other hand it might seem beyond the bounds of reason to an inhabitant of a planet with a dark blue sun that a ray of white light contains the whole seven primary colors and that these colors are separately and in combination absorbed by the different objects on such a planet as our earth, permitting us to observe a wonderful exhibition of tints and colors, gayety, shade and brightness. If he, in his semi-dark blueness, could possibly visualize such a marvel as this, he surely would be well-nigh overwhelmed with the wonder of it. Perhaps our sun was the only star of the millions of stars in our Universe—(or in the innumerable Universes which drift in space beyond the island of our Universe)—that was able to produce planets that could bear life; and yet again, since the spectroscope has proved that our sun is constituted like many another star in the heavens, perhaps these other stars, like our sun, also have planets. At least it is reasonable and rather exhilarating to think about it.

All the brilliant red stars are young and in the giant stage of their career but the faint red stars are dwarfs and on their decline. The dwarf red stars are believed to be cooling for they possess chemical combinations only possible in a decreasing temperature relatively low for stars. This must mean that such stars are growing old, for metallic vapors are never found in stars that are young. In a still later stage, these metallic vapors condense and form a solid crust. About 500 red stars have already been observed but they are all at a distance vastly remote from the territory of our sun. Antares, however, is among the most youthful of the giant red stars and will gradually rise in temperature and become brilliantly blue during the next few thousands of millions of years.

Halfway between Antares and Akrab (β on the end of the upper claw), lies a very rich and condensed cluster of stars. This cluster, which is one of the finest known, may be easily seen in a small telescope. On the eastern side of the cluster is a dark nebula. Akrab is a triple star of the 2nd, 4th and 10th magnitudes. The little star 2 degrees east of Akrab is of the 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th magnitudes and is claimed by some to be the most beautiful quadruple in the heavens. Many other interesting stars may be seen around this conspicuous figure with a 2½- or 3-inch telescope, and a handy little reference book for the amateur fortunate enough to possess such a telescope is William Tyler Alcott's "In Starland with a Three-Inch Telescope."


Formalhaut is called the "Fish's Mouth" star because it is supposed to shine on the mouth of Piscis Australis, the Southern Fish. This Fish is represented in the star-maps as holding open its mouth in utter contentment while a long line of small, glittering stars wash down in a stream of water. This water flows from the Urn of Aquarius, the Water-bearer, who stands just below the head of Pegasus, the Winged Horse. The Urn is formed by a little Y of 3rd and 4th magnitude stars, and, to the Egyptians, was an emblem of the rainy season.

"Rolls from Aquarius' vase a limpid stream
Where numerous stars like sparkling bubbles gleam."

The Southern Fish must not be confused with the two tied fishes of the constellation of Pisces, known as the "Northern Fish," which lie to the east of the Waterbearer's Urn. This region of the sky has been called the "Sky Sea," for not only does it contain three fishes but also Cetus, the Whale, Delphinus, the Dolphin, and Capricornus, the Sea-goat. The three fish and the Seagoat were placed in the sky to commemorate the adventures of the Goddess Venus, the little God Cupid and the God Pan with the terrible fire-breathing monster Typhon. When Typhon appeared with a deafening roar, shaking his head and belching fire, the immortals fled in a panic before him, and when Venus and Cupid and Pan jumped into a river, they were transformed into two fish and a Sea-goat.
The constellations which border the "Sky Sea." All of these stars are not in view at the same time.
The Southern Fish is connected in some way in the story but just how is not quite clear. Northwest of Aquarius lies the region of birds, while beyond the "Sea" to the southeast is the hunting scene of the giant Orion. The River Eridanus may also be seen flowing from a star near Rigel, on the foot of Orion, to a point on the shore of the "Sea."

Formalhaut rises in the south at twilight about the 10th of October and wanders westward in a small arc above the horizon. It is visible such a short time that it is said that it comes "when the leaves begin to fall and goes while they are still falling." This star rises in the south at the same time that Capella rises in the northeast, but an easier way of locating it may be found by estimating two-thirds of the distance across the sky from the outside stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper. It also lies almost exactly in a straight line with the two stars on the west side of the great Square of Pegasus at a distance equal to 3⅓ times the distance between them and the southernmost of the two.


If all the diamonds in the world were melted into one huge, magical jewel, its sparkling brilliance would pale beside Sirius, the diamond of the heavens.

This wonderful, iridescent beauty, fresh as a prismatic ice-flame, if such a thing might be, is best appreciated on a clear, cold winter night when the little stars swarm out like fire-flies and the large stars burn like Aladdin gems of frost and fringing fire.

The ancient Greeks, strange to say, dreaded the sight of this beautiful star, for they not only imagined that its "burning breath" caused the unhealthy and oppressive heats of summer but that it was directly responsible for their parched grass and blighted corn, their mad dogs and raging fevers!

The unpopularity of this star was due to the fact that during the hottest days of July it rose just before the sun and preceded that luminary all day long in his pathway through the heavens. Not knowing that Sirius lay many millions of millions of miles beyond our solar system, they quite naturally supposed that his bright rays blended with those of the sun, greatly intensifying the heat. Thus Sirius caused the hottest season of the year and all the dried fields, mad dogs, plagues and fevers were attributed to its malignant influence. Since the huge star belonged to the constellation of Canis Major, the Great Dog, it was called the "Dog Star" and these hot, sultry days, the "dog-days." The dog-days lasted for about 40 days, extending from 20 days before the heliacal rising of the Dog-star Sirius to 20 days after. Owing to the precession of the equinoxes, the heliacal rising of Sirius is different from what it was to the ancients and the dog-days are now counted from the 3rd of July to the 11th of August.

Unlike the Greeks, the ancient Egyptians held Sirius in the highest esteem and built splendid temples in its honor in the valley of the Nile. J. Norman Lockyer has made an extensive study of Egyptian temples and has described them most interestingly in his book "The Dawn of Astronomy." During his explorations he found seven temples which were constructed solely to guide the light of Sirius through an opening in the side of the temple, down a long hallway to a point on the central altar. Olcott in "Star Lore of All Ages" visualizes the following beautiful scene in the most notable of these, the temple of Isis at Denerah:

"Here the rising beams of Sirius flashed down a long vista of massive pylons and illuminated the inner recesses of the temple. What a wonderful scene there must have been enacted within that darkened edifice, when, in the presence of a vast multitude silent in meditation, there suddenly appeared a gleam of silver light, that laved the marble altar in a refulgence born of the infinite, a beam, altho' the watchers knew it not, that had started on its earthward journey 8½ years before it greeted their eyes."

Why did the Egyptians reverence this star and hold it sacred while the ancient Greeks watched the same heliacal rising and vehemently denounced it for journeying so close to the sun at a season when additional heat was least desired? The Egyptians thought little about the heat, but with the appearance of this star just before the rising of the sun they knew that the season had arrived for the annual overflow of the Nile.

"Far in the south the daring waters rise,
As in disdain of Cancer's burning skies;
Thence, with a downward course, then seek the main,
Direct against the lazy northern wain."
Lucan's Pharsalia.

This heliacal rising of Sirius, which the Egyptians called Sothis, was an event which needs must be heeded, for, having no calendars in those ancient days, it served as a warning that the river would soon overflow its banks and make a vast sea of the lowlands. It then behooved the husbandmen and gardeners to act quickly, and move themselves and their herds and flocks up to the dykes in a place of safety.

"Nile's redundant waters never rise
Till the hot Dog inflames the summer skies;
Nor to his banks his shrinking stream confines,
Till high in Heaven th' autumnal Balance shines."
Lucan's Pharsalia.

During the inundation the lowlands are so completely covered with water that towns and villages rise like islands, while here and there are seen the tops of groves and fruit-trees like shrubs on the surface of the sea. This "yearly tribute of rains" which the Nile brings from other countries, gives new life to the parched land of the Egyptians. Herodotus, centuries ago, said that Egypt was the gift of this river, for without it their country would be a part of a lifeless desert. In the words of Amru, Egypt first appears as a dusty plain, then as a fresh sea, and finally as a bed of flowers. To still better understand why seven great temples were erected for Sirius, the "Nile Star," whose constellation was sometimes called "the watch-dog on the Nile," let us read Osborn's graphic description in "Monumental Egypt" of the transformations resulting from the watering of the sands by the overflow of the great river which the Egyptians guarded and held sacred.

"The Nile has shrunk within its banks until its stream has contracted to half its ordinary dimensions, and its turbid, slimy, stagnant waters scarcely seem to flow in any direction. Broad flats or steep banks of black, unbaked Nile mud, form both shores of the river. All beyond is sand and sterility; for the ham-seen or sand-wind of fifty days duration has scarcely ceased to blow. The trunks and branches of the trees may be seen here and there through the dusty, hazy, burning atmosphere, but so entirely are their leaves coated with dust that at a distance they are not distinguishable from the desert sand that surrounds them."

Then comes the inundation:

"Perhaps there is not in Nature a more exhilarating sight, or one more strongly exciting to confidence in God, than the rise of the Nile. Day by day, night by night, its turbid tide sweeps onward majestically over the parched sands of the waste howling wilderness. Almost hourly, as we slowly ascended it before the Etesian wind, we heard the thundering fall of some mud bank, and saw by the rush of all animated Nature to the spot, that the Nile had overleapt another obstruction, and that its bounding waters were diffusing life and joy through another desert."

After the flood comes sowing time and the effects of it all are exhibited:

"in a scene of fertility and beauty such as will scarcely be found in another country at any season of the year. The vivid green of the springing corn, the groves of pomegranate trees ablaze with the rich scarlet of their blossoms, the fresh breeze laden with the perfumes of gardens of roses and orange thickets, every tree and every shrub covered with sweet-scented flowers."

No wonder that the appearance of Sirius was hailed with reverence when its rising just before the sun meant also the rise of the life-giving river and the prosperity of the inhabitants of Egypt! However, as mentioned before, with the precession of the equinoxes, the heliacal rising of Sirius has changed and its brilliant light no longer announces the rising of the Nile.

Sirius is one of our nearest stars for its light requires only 8½ years to reach the earth. Yet its nearness does not account altogether for its quite exceptional brightness, for our sun at the same distance would appear as a star of the 6th magnitude and be invisible to the unaided eye. Only two stars, as far as has yet been discovered, lie closer to the earth than Sirius. The second brightest star in the sky is Canopus, visible from the southern hemisphere, but so far away that its distance can scarcely be estimated.

Halley, a celebrated English astronomer born 1656, made the first discovery of the relative motion of the stars when he noted that Sirius had moved from the position assigned to it on Ptolemy's map of 150 A. D. We have now reliable data for discussing the proper motion of about 10,000 stars. The proper motion of stars consists of a displacement in various directions of the individual stars. Thus the configuration of a constellation may slowly change, and, although many groups of stars all travel in the same direction, there are also conspicuous instances where they move in different directions. The Big Dipper and the Southern Cross are two star groups whose stars are traveling along different courses and after a period of time extending over thousands of years, the 'dipper' and the 'cross' effect of these two constellations will have altogether disappeared.

For a while Sirius was believed to be traveling in a straight line, but soon irregularities were discovered in the great star's motion, an "undulatory progressive motion" on each side of a middle line. From a knowledge of these oscillating movements, Bessel inferred that Sirius must have an unseen companion attracting or pulling it as the two stars traveled together around a common center of gravity. In 1862, Mr. Alvan G. Clarke of New York detected this companion situated at an angular distance of only 7" from Sirius,—about as far distant as Uranus is from the earth. The larger star is only about twice as massive as its companion but is 20,000 times brighter. The light that we see from Sirius then comes from two stars which together radiate 48 times as much light as the sun. Compared to Sirius, our sun is rather an inconspicuous star, although Barnard gave us great satisfaction by discovering a neighbor not much farther away than Sirius which gives out only 12500 as much light as the sun!

Sirius, the "Dog Star," rests on the nose of the Great Dog, in the constellation Canis Major, and may be found in a straight line from the three evenly spaced stars in Orion's Belt. He was originally Orion's hunting dog, and, as if to give atmosphere to a hunting scene in the sky, Lepus, the Hare, has been placed on a constellation just in front of Sirius and below the feet of Orion, where he is "pursued continually through all time" by the Dog with the huge star.

A vividly red variable star glows in the constellation of Lepus, the Hare. Every so often, this little star becomes radiantly red. This additional light is caused by the star bursting explosively through the layer of absorbent vapors which are smothering the life from its flames. Some day this crimson star will flare and flicker for the last time and its final ray be wafted to our earth—the Swan Song of a dying star.

About 9 o'clock during the first part of December, Sirius rises on its pathway south of east, the brilliant beauty of its light adding to the celestial scene like a torch among a thousand candles. This is true though the month of December exhibits the loveliest assembly of stars to be seen in all the year.

From December on into early spring, the Dog Star is the cynosure of every eye. Night after night, through the winter evenings, it flashes in the sky a little farther west; finally it gleams in the western sky at sunset, jewels the rim of the horizon, and disappears.

Orion and the "Dog Star."