Where did the names of the stars come from

Where did the names of the stars come from
Where did the names of the stars come from

Of the total number of stars that can be observed with the naked eye, about 275 have their own names. The names of the stars were invented in different eras, in different countries. Not all of them have survived to our time in their original form, and it is not always clear why this or that luminary is called that way.

On the ancient drawings themselves, which depict the night sky, it is clear that initially only constellations had names. Particularly bright stars were simply marked somehow.

"star names

Later, the famous catalog of Ptolemy appeared, in which 48 constellations were indicated. Here already the heavenly bodies were numbered or descriptive names of the stars were given. For example, in the description of the Ursa Major bucket, they looked like this: “the star on the back of the quadrangle”, “the one on its side”, “the first in the tail”, and so on.

It was not until the 16th century that the Italian astronomer Piccolomini began to designate them in Latin and Greek letters. The designation went alphabetically in descending order of magnitude (brilliance). The same technique was used by the German astronomer Bayer. And the English astronomer Flamsteed added serial numbers ("61 Cygnus") to the letter designation.

"beautiful star names

Let's talk about how the beautiful names of the stars, their brightest representatives, appeared. Of course, let's start with the main guiding beacon - the North Star, which is how it is most often called today. Although it has about a hundred names, and almost all of them are associated with its location. This is due to the fact that it points to the North Pole and at the same time is practically motionless. It seems that the star is simply attached to the sky, and all other luminaries make their eternal movement around it.

It is precisely because of its immobility that the North Star has become the main navigational landmark of the sky. In Russia, the names of the stars gave them a characteristic: this luminary was called "Heavenly Stake", "Joke Star", "Northern Star". In Mongolia, it was called the "Golden Stake", in Estonia - the "Northern Nail", in Yugoslavia - the "Nekretnitsa" (the one that does not spin). The Khakass call it "Khoshar", which means "tied horse". And the Evenks called it “the hole in the sky.”

Sirius is the brightest celestial body for an observer from Earth. The Egyptians have all the names of the stars are poetic, so they called Sirius the “Radiant Star of the Nile”, “Tear of Isis”, “King of the Sun” or “Sothis”. Among the Romans, this celestial body received a rather prosaic name - "Hot Dog". This is due to the fact that when it appeared in the sky, unbearable summer heat set in.


Spica is the brightest of the Virgo constellation. Previously, it was called "Spike", which is why the Virgin is most often depicted with ears of corn in her hands. Perhaps itdue to the fact that when the Sun is in Virgo, it is time to harvest.

Regulus is the main star of the constellation Leo. Translated from Latin, this name means "prince". The name of this celestial body is more ancient than the constellation itself. It was called so by Ptolemy, as well as by Babylonian and Arab astronomers. There is an assumption that it was by this star that the Egyptians determined the timing of field work.

Aldebaran - the main star of the constellation Taurus. Translated from Arabic, its name means "following", since this star moves after the Pleiades (the most beautiful open cluster of stars), it seems to be catching up with them.

More about one of the brightest representatives, she is in the constellation Carina. Canopus is her name. The name of the celestial body and the constellation itself has a long history. It was Canopus that was the guide of sailors for many thousands of years BC, and today it is the main navigational luminary in the southern hemisphere.

Constellations, stars - they got their names in ancient times. But even now they fascinate with their radiance and remain a mystery to people.

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