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Becvar's 14 star names

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#1 Doug Reilly

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:50 PM

I just did a post on my blog about the 14 star names that Antonin Becvar introduced with the Skalnate Pleso atlas in 1948. They are:

Achird, Arich, Haris, Hasseleh, Hatysa, Heze, Kaffa, Kraz, Ksora, Kuma, Reda, Sarin, Segin and Tyl

Star name researcher Paul Kunitsch could find no earlier reference nor any clear etymology for these names, at least in Latin, Greek or Arabic. They seem to have been dreamed up from thin air, or from a source that was known to only Becvar and his team.

Anyone have any information about them? It's an interesting mystery.

Here' my post for more information...although really what we know is...very little.

http://bicycleastron...-the-becvar-14/

#2 KidOrion

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:50 PM

With Korsa, at least, the derivation seems to be from Arabic chair. Cassiopeia was referred to as al-Dhat al-Kursiyy. Alpha Cas was also referred to with this name, but was later changed to Schedar, whose etymology could be from a few different sources.

#3 KidOrion

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:02 PM

Arich may be a mutated form of Arista, which Bayer called both Spica and Virgo; that may be a stretch.

It may also be from the Arabic for "foot", rijl (hence "Rigel"); al-rijl would assimilate to ar-rijl. Eta Vir was also known as ar-rijl al 'Awwa, "Foot of the Barker," and Gamma may have been similarly designated at one time.

#4 Doug Reilly

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:11 PM

It's not Korsa, though, but Ksora. Interesting information, however. Arich refers to Gamma, not Alpha Virginis...so it's even more of a stretch. Constellation matches.

#5 KidOrion

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

Yeah. Historical linguistics gets less accurate the farther back one goes, especially without knowing specifics of the given languages. Much of this is spitballing. Star-names occasionally wandered from star to star, too (or from star to constellation and vice versa), which makes it even more difficult.

#6 KidOrion

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 03:35 PM

It's not Korsa, though, but Ksora. Interesting information, however. Arich refers to Gamma, not Alpha Virginis...so it's even more of a stretch. Constellation matches.


Well, Ksora might have still originated from the above, if one applies metathesis to it (the process by which ask becomes "axe"). It could have been a mistranslation/misreading of the word.

Hard to say, but fun to speculate. :)

#7 Rick Woods

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Posted 18 January 2013 - 04:22 PM

What a great article! Thanks, Doug!

They could be anagrams of Czech words or names; like Navi, Regor, and Dnoces.

#8 BobinKy

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:21 PM

Any idea of the RA/dec coordinates of the Becvar 14? Constellation locations? Alternate labels?

#9 Doug Reilly

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 02:25 PM

I will post the bayer designations....

#10 Doug Reilly

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:47 PM

Achird Eta Cas
Arich Gamma Vir
Haris Gamma Boo
Hasseleh Iota Aur
Hatysa Iota Ori
Heze Zeta Vir
Kaffa Delta UMa
Kraz Beta Crv
Ksora Delta Cas
Kuma Nu Dra
Reda Gamma Aql
Sarin Delta Her
Segin Epsilon Cas
Tyl Epsilon Dra

#11 BobinKy

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:22 PM

Thanks. I will add the Becvar 14 as an observing list to my SkyTools 3 database.

#12 BobinKy

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 10:48 PM

I finished building the Becvar 14 observing list in SkyTools 3 on my laptop. Some of the Becvar designations were already in the SkyTools 3 data base; some were not. For those that were not, SkyTools 3 used alternate designations.

Here is the SkyTools 3 information. Let me know if you want me to double check any of these. I googled each of the Becvar designations and entered a NOTE of some of what I saw online. Anyone interested can click on the link at the end of each NOTE.

I also liked what Rick Woods said.

Achird Eta Cas -- Yes in SkyTools 3: multiple star system, R.A.: 00h49m07.5s, Dec.: +57°48'47".
NOTE: Designation used by James Kaler.

Arich Gamma Vir -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is Porrima, multiple star system, R.A.: 12h41m39.1s, Dec.: -01°26'57".
NOTE: "Arich is a giant red spider, that appears as a boss in the game Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!. He appears as the boss of the second area of the game, Kremwood Forest, where he is fought in a level called Arich's Ambush" (wikipedia).

Haris Gamma Boo -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is Seginus, multiple star system, R.A.: 14h32m04.5s, Dec.: +38°18'32".
NOTE: "Traditional name for the star gamma bootis, name of a county and city in Iran" (wikipedia)

Hasseleh Iota Aur -- Yes in SkyTools 3: variable star, R.A.: 04h56m59.6s, Dec.: +33°09'58".
NOTE: "Hasseleh was Al Ka'b dhi'l 'Inan "the Heel of the Rein-holder" a title which other authors gave to gamma (γ) [gamma Auriga which marks the right Heel of the Rein-holder is now beta Taurus, El Nath marking one of the Bull's horns]" (Richard H. Allen, 1889).

Hatysa Iota Ori -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is Nair al Saif, multiple star system, R.A.: 05h35m26.0s, Dec.: -05°54'36".
NOTE: "Iota (ι) Orion, Hatsya, is a triple and nebulous star, 3.5, 8.5, and 11, white, pale blue, and grape red in the sword tip of the Hunter, the brightest star in Orion's sword. Al Tizini (Arabian astronomer, first half of 16th century) designated this as Na'ir al Saif, the Bright One in the Sword, but it is practically unnamed with us [Wikipedia says it is a traditional name; "sometimes with the typographic error Hatysa."], although far more deserving of the title Saiph than is the succeeding star kappa (κ Saiph). In China it was Fa, a Middle-man, upsilon (υ) and intermediate stars being included under this name; but Edkins translates the word "Punishment," and gives another title for it, — Tui, or Jui, the Sharp Edge, analogous to the Arabian Saif and perhaps taken from it.) [Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889].

Heze Zeta Vir -- Yes in SkyTools 3: single star, R.A.: 13h34m41.4s, Dec.: -00°35'44".
NOTE: "Heze is the westernmost prefecture-level city in Shandong" (wikipedia).

Kaffa Delta UMa -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is Megrez, multiple star system, R.A.: 12h15m25.7s, Dec.: +57°01'58".
NOTE: "Kaffa is the name of several places in Ethiopia" (wikipedia).

Kraz Beta Crv -- Yes in SkyTools 3: variable star, R.A.: 12h34m23.2s, Dec.: -23°23'49".
NOTE: "KrAZ is is a factory that produces trucks and other special-purpose vehicles in Kremenchuk, Ukraine; particularly heavy-duty off-road models" (wikipedia)

Ksora Delta Cas -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is Ruchbah, multiple star system, R.A.: 01h25m49.5s, Dec.: +60°14'06".
NOTE: Google search revealed no clues.

Kuma Nu Dra -- Yes in SkyTools 3: alternate designation is Nu 2 Dra, multiple star system, R.A.: 17h32m16.2s, Dec.: +55°10'23".
NOTE: "Kuma is a word in several languages and might refer to 'Kuma Lisa', a character from Bulgarian and Russian folklore, a fox who usually plays the role of the trickster; Kuma, is the word for "bear" in Japanese; Kuma is the name of several places in Japan; name of a river in Russia" (wikipedia).

Reda Gamma Aql -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is Tarazed, multiple star system, R.A.: 19h46m15.6s, Dec.: +10°36'48".
NOTE: "Reda may refer to a town or river in Poland" (wikipedia).

Sarin Delta Her -- Yes in SkyTools 3: multiple star system, R.A.: 17h15m01.9s, Dec.: +24°50'19".
NOTE: "In the catalogue of stars in the Calendarium of Al Achsasi al Mouakket, this star was designated Menkib al Jathi al Aisr, which was translated into Latin as Humerus Sinister Ingeniculi, meaning the left shoulder of the kneeling man" (wikipedia)

Segin Epsilon Cas -- Yes in SkyTools 3: variable star, R.A.: 01h54m23.8s, Dec.: +63°40'12".
NOTE: "In Chinese, 閣道 (Gé Dào), meaning Flying Corridor, refers to an asterism consisting of ε Cassiopeiae, ι Cassiopeiae, δ Cassiopeiae, θ Cassiopeiae, ν Cassiopeiae and ο Cassiopeiae.[16] Consequently, ε Cassiopeiae itself is known as 閣道二 (Gé Dào èr, English: the Second Star of Flying Corridor.)" (wikipedia)

Tyl Epsilon Dra -- Not in SkyTools 3: designation is 63 Dra, multiple star system, R.A.: 19h48m10.6s, Dec.: +70°16'05".
NOTE: "Tyl is a Russian word meaning 'rear' in a military sense" (wikipedia).
I enjoyed reading through your Bicycle Astronomy blog.

#13 Rick Woods

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Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:45 PM

Bob, you're good!

#14 Doug Reilly

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:08 AM

Awesome sluething Bob!

Just to note, Hasseleh is not named by Allen in the original. The page linked seems to have it superimposed on the map and the quoted passage is misleading in that it seems to suggest that Hasseleh is in Allen. The link at the top, to google books, shows no sign of it nor does a search of the book text.

A few of these possible meanings might make sense in terms of things that might have been familiar to Becvar. Kraz russian trucks would likely have been common in socialist Czechoslovakia (it actually sounds familiar, like I saw them when I was a volunteer in Slovakia), Poland is just next door (Reda), Russian was taught in schools (Kuma), Sarin was a nerve gas common to both Nato and Soviet arsenals in the 1950s and certianly matches the "sinister" connotations of the star's earlier names. Place names farther afield could have come from an Atlas.

I have a hard time believing that Hatysa was a "typo" given that it's about as far from the Arabic tranliteration as possible! That might be worth correcting the Wiki, which I've never done, but Wikipedia is an awesome project...

Thanks again Bob, this is good work. No definitive answers, but the mystery gets richer.

#15 Doug Reilly

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 08:10 AM

Oh, thanks for reading the blog. I try to post good stuff, but that means I don't post every day. Unless someone would give me a full time job doing it!

#16 jrbarnett

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:05 AM

http://www.constella...s/Hasseleh.html

http://www.constella...ars/Hatsya.html

1889 edition of Star Names, by R.H. Allen.

Haven't checked the rest, but I bet that's where many of them came from. Whether Allen made 'em up is another question, but I doubt it.

- Jim

#17 jrbarnett

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:14 AM

Ksora reference here, allegedly from the Cambridge Guide to the Constellations.

http://en.wikipedia....lta_Cassiopeiae

Very cool topic.

Regards,

Jim

#18 jrbarnett

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 12:24 AM

"Arich" is supposedly Greek and refers to a royal Athenian princess or some such (per a "baby names" website). Probably a story there. The star is also known as "Postvarta".

- Jim

#19 Doug Reilly

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 09:31 AM

Jim,
Hasseleh and Hatsya are not as far as I know named thus in Allen. The website you linked is a little misleading, most likely unintentionally. From the pages you linked, however, there is further link (under the star name title at the top) to the google books version of Allen's work and I can't find either name there. For example, see page 91:

http://books.google....&lpg=PA91&dq...

The Wiki page on Ksora says it is a traditional name, but doesn't give more detail. It references a 1995 Cambridge Guide to the Constellations.

Allen again does not use the name Ksora: http://books.google....8&lpg=PA148&...

Arich sounds like a good lead...now just to figure out what source Becvar got it from, or maybe he was just reading Greek mythology and liked the name...

#20 jrbarnett

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:17 PM

Wow, that is contextually misleading.

I also checked a scanned pdf of the first edition of the work. Same as the linked version so far.

Here's a source that claims not only that Hatsya is a "traditional name" for Iota Orionis, but also that it is sometimes misspelled Hatysa.

http://bethulah.blog...09/orion-9.html

I'll bet that if we check old astrological (Middle Ages) sources we'll find some "hits" for these "lost" star names.

More research is in order.

UPDATE: Astrology forums are full of examples of use of these Becvar "lost names" for the cited stars.

Example for "Kuma":

http://groups.yahoo....rs/message/6346

"North Node



*Kisaba (Theta Apodis)

Kuma (Nu-1 Draconis)

*Han (Zeta Ophiuchi)

*Rho Ophiuchi

*Antares (Alpha Scorpii)

*Shark's Jaws Nebula (King 1-3 Scorpii)

*Gatria (Gamma Trianguli Australe)"

I'll bet these are names (probably derived from Babylonian or old Persian) from astrological sources. Astronomy and astrology weren't really differentiated until the last few hundred years. Even Isaac Newton believed to some extent in mumbo-jumbo and mysticism.

Incidentally I also found references to Archid and Hasseleh on that astrology site, though no reference to Arich interestingly enough.

Regards,

Jim

#21 jrbarnett

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 10:42 PM

More evidence of astrological origins for some of these hard to place star names:

http://www.constella...rs_alphabet.htm

Note: I am in no way endorsing, condoning or indicating any affinity for astrological beliefs. I'm approaching this as a historian and etymologist, not as a crackpot. :grin: Not that I'm not a crackpot, mind you. It's just that I'm not the kind of crackpot that thanks his lucky stars.

Regards,

Jim

#22 Doug Reilly

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:07 PM

Jim,
That is my suspicion as well....I have this fantasy that somewhere in the library at Skalnate Pleso there's an old star atlas that nobody has bothered looking at in years, and there those 14 names will be. Since my wife is from Slovakia I might actually have a chance to pursue this.

However it might not be that easy. In an appendix to one of the more recent editions of A Dictionary of Modern Star Names, Smart wrote that Paul Kunitsch, the book's co-author, spent 15 years researching and interviewing Czech and Slovak astronomers who worked with Becvar for some clue of the 14 names, and came up with zilch. Since star names, in particular Arabic star names, were his expertise, I'm assuming he had access to a lot of old star maps. I might write to him to get a better sense of what he did, so I don't recreate the wheel.

#23 jrbarnett

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Posted 28 January 2013 - 11:23 PM

I have a theory on "Kaffa". I found another reference to a "Kaffa". "Kaffaljidhma" or Gamma Ceti derives from Arabic, "Al Kaff al Jidhmah". Your Kaffa probably derives from some other "Kaff al..." designation.

Also check out Jim Kaler's site.

http://stars.astro.i...ow/sowlist.html

He has interesting things to say about some of your strange names. He agrees that some are indeed strange. He goes so far as to say of Achird: "The proper name "Achird" seems to have been applied in recent times and has no clear meaning, one unsupported source suggesting "girdle.""

Interesting stuff.

- Jim

#24 BobinKy

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 12:27 AM

Hmmm...

This brings us the interesting question of how the history of Slavic astronomy compares with the astronomy history of other regions? Is it possible that some star names have a deep history within Slavic astronomy, that is not shared by either the Greek or Arabic astronomy histories? For myself, I know nothing about the history of Slavic astronomy--and next to nothing about Greek and Arabic astronomy histories. Is something written up in print or on the Internet about the history of Slavic astronomy?

*****

The brief wikipedia article Serbian folk astronomy states "Stars are anthropomorphised as women, sometimes described as sisters of Sun and Moon.[7]"

[7] Kulišić, Špiro (1970). "Звезде". In Kulišić, Špiro; Petrović, Petar Ž.; Pantelić, Nikola (in Serbian). Српски митолошки речник. Belgrade: Nolit. pp. 136.
Does gender play a role in the naming of stars in Greek or Arabian astronomy?

I agree more research is needed.


#25 BobinKy

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Posted 29 January 2013 - 01:19 AM

Looks like this website also has some information about Slavic Folk Astronomy: Archaeoastronomy of Europe, Slavic, and Asia and the Pacific: A Biblography by David S. P. Dearborn.

Slavic Literature

Gladyszowa, Maria
1960 Wiedza ludowa o gwiazdach (Folk knowledge about stars), Wroclaw. Jankovic, Nenad Dj
1951 Astronomija u predanjima, obicajima i umotvorinama Srba (Astronomy in the lore, customs, and the folk wisdom of the Serbs), Belgrade.

Kale, Jadran
1995 Izvori za etnoastronomiju (Sources for ethnoastronomy), Kucerin zbornik, 103–120. Sibenik (Croatia).

Maticetov, Milko
1972 Slovenska ljudska imena zvezd in predstave o njih (Slovenian folk-names of the stars and their perception). In: Anzeiger fuer Slavische Philologie 6:60–103. Wiesbaden.

Rut, Mariia Eduardovna
1987 Russkaia narodnaia astronimiia (Russian folk astronomy). Sverdlovsk.







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