Johann Bayer | StarDate On-line

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Vega, within the constellation Lyra, stands excessive overhead at dusk. Arcturus, in Boötes, is properly up within the west. And Antares, the center of the scorpion, is within the south-southwest.

These stars are additionally often called Alpha Lyrae, Alpha Boötis, and Alpha Scorpii, indicating that every is the brightest member of its constellation. The names have been devised by Johann Bayer, who was born 450 years in the past.

Bayer was born in Germany in 1572, though the precise date is unknown. He was a lawyer, and grew to become authorized advisor to the Augsburg metropolis council.

Bayer additionally was excited by astronomy. And in 1603, he revealed a star atlas. It was the primary atlas to cowl your complete evening sky, together with some southern constellations that had been plotted a couple of years earlier.

Bayer named the celebrities utilizing a letter of the Greek alphabet adopted by the constellation identify. So a constellation’s brightest star was alpha, the second brightest was beta, and so forth.

There have been some exceptions, although — some stars have been named primarily based on their place. So whereas the star Dubhe is Alpha Ursae Majoris, it’s solely the second-brightest star of Ursa Main. It marks the lip of the bowl of the Massive Dipper, with the opposite Greek-letter stars tracing the dipper’s define.

Bayer and a colleague created one other atlas, revealed after Bayer died, that used names from Christianity. But it surely by no means caught on — leaving greater than a thousand stars named with the Greek alphabet.

Script by Damond Benningfield



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