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Star Catalogues - Diane - 29-07-2015

One of the interesting leads which I simply have no time to follow up - I'd be glad if anyone would like to work on it with me.

I noticed that in al-Sufi's Book of the Fixed Stars, his table for Sagittarius has 31 stars.

The figure on folio 73v, with the archer in the centre, contains only 30 stars-and-holders.

Which suggests (among other possibilities) that (a) the central figure may be identified with the leading star of a constellation (i.e. first over the horizon),
or that - as many others have suggested - we are looking at some version of the Egyptian-Indian decans.

I'm more interested in the first possibility and would dearly like to know if there is any pre-fifteenth century astronomical text (from any tradition) in which the star-list for Sagittarius contains only 30 stars.

Ditto, of course, for all the rest, but Sagittarius interests me most just now.

It's a pest that I simply haven't time to concentrate on this at the moment; it could, potentially direct us to an informing written text.. maybe.


Re: Star Catalogues - Diane - 03-08-2015

Further to the above:
Evan's papers on the origin of the Ptolemaic star catalogue include reference to MS Grec 2506 in the BNF (or Bib.Nat. de Paris).

My search engine doesn't turn it up on BNF Gallica so it may not yet be digitised.

Evans writes of the Hipparchan star catalogue (now believed lost)

Quote:In 1892, Ernst Maass published a previously unknown Greek list of the constellations from a manuscript in the Laurentian Library. Other copies were soon turned up elsewhere. In some lists, the text lists only the names of the constellations. In others, the name of each constellation is followed by the number of stars that the constellation contains. Again, in some manuscripts, the constellation list is attributed explicitly to Hipparchus, while in others it is anonymous. A collation and study of the manuscripts was made by Franz Boll. The new constellation list was also discussed at length by Dreyer.
One of the best texts is found in a fourteenth century manuscript in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris (Grec 2506). Here the text is entitled, 'From the stars of Hipparchus' and lists 46 constellations with the number of stars in each..'

Evans, J., 'On the Origin of the Ptolemaic Star Catalogue - Part One', Journal for the History of Astronomy, Vol.18, NO. 3/AUG,( 1987) pp.155-172.

This paper and 'Part 2' are both online, made available through NASA.
Part 1 is at
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and Part 2 at
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I should be most grateful indeed if anyone can discover the number of stars given for Sagittarius in these 'Hipparchan' lists, and preferably according to BNF MS Grec 2506.

RE: Star Catalogues - Monica Yokubinas - 19-05-2019

I was looking into this and some other similar astronomy issues today and came across an article (now lost) on how the medieval person studying the astronomy of the Persians and arabs, would leave out a few marked stars, if they could not locate on their own. Not very helpful, but it might explain the missing one.