Talk:Argo Navis

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Wasn't Pyxis also originally part of Argo Navis? Rwflammang (talk) 14:30, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

When it was Malus. Last paragraph. Rothorpe (talk) 18:01, 5 October 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. Sorry for my superficial skimming of the article. Rwflammang (talk) 18:33, 5 October 2010 (UTC)

Omicrons and ohs, or not[edit]

The article states that ο (omicron) Puppis is a mis-reading of Lacaille's use of o (latin lowercase oh). I have seen this in one or two places, but it is contradicted by many other sources, starting with Simbad. I have looked in the original Lacaille catalogue and it includes both ο (omicron) Puppis (as "Argus in Puppi") and ο (omicron) Argus (now ο Velorum). Some people in the past have refused to accept that Lacaille would use the same Greek letter twice within the constellations previously Argo Navis, although it happened with χ (chi) and possibly others. Lacaille also seems to have studiously avoided using lowercase Latin letters where these would be confusing, for example not using lowercase latin oh at all anywhere in the catalogue. I suggest this dubious claim be removed, or at least relegated to an unproven conjecture (since there are references that will support it). Lithopsian (talk) 21:21, 12 December 2016 (UTC)

I believe Wagman is correct. Simbad is a poor reference for historical designations; they are reporting current usage and generally ignore the Latin letter designations. -- Elphion (talk) 21:37, 12 December 2016 (UTC)
My latin is rusty, but I think I've sorted out what Lacaille intended. Unfortunately, my own research isn't going to fly as a source for writing Wikipedia articles so I can only continue to quote the sources that are out there. In this particular case, my research says Wagman is correct, but unfortunately the rest of the world has passed this by and continues to regard Omicron Puppis as the preferred designation. I'm going to see if I can come up with a form of words to describe what Lacaille did that can be supported by reliable sources. Lithopsian (talk) 22:12, 13 December 2016 (UTC)
Well that's something. The article probably needs more on additional changes after Lacaille; more designations; the final breakup; etc. Lithopsian (talk) 15:52, 14 December 2016 (UTC)


@Elphion: Thanks for the message - I've been an editor on Wikipedia for more than 13 years and know its guidelines well enough to know that WP:BRD is not policy. Nonetheless, if you disagree with me on something, I am happy to hear your reasons.--Anders Feder (talk) 16:21, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

The point is that "is held to represent" and "represents" is a meaningless distinction in this case. E.g., Botticelli's Birth of Venus represents the birth of Venus; "held to represent" is excessive verbiage that contributes nothing. Similarly, the Greeks invented Argo Navis to represent Jason's ship. "Held to represent" would be useful only if there were some doubt in the matter. -- Elphion (talk) 16:34, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
@Elphion: Well, that is the point. There is no doubt that the Birth of Venus represents the birth of Venus because the author said that it does, so it is a fact. Who authored the relative positions of the stars? No one - and consequently interpreting what they represent is nothing more than a personal choice. For instance, to the ancient Egyptians, the stars in Orion represented the god of the sun, to the Hindus it represented an arrowed stag, and to the Chinese it represented a White Tiger. Selecting any one representation and presenting it as fact is contrary to WP:NPOV.--Anders Feder (talk) 16:50, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
The constellation Argo Navis is not the position of the stars, it is the figure imposed upon them. It was invented by the Greeks to represent the ship Argo. Argo is not an Egyptian or Chinese constellation, it's a Greek constellation. Similarly, Orion is a Greek constellation (based likely on earlier Middle Eastern versions). Its stars are interpreted differently by different cultures, but Orion itself represents a hunter. There's no POV there. -- Elphion (talk) 16:56, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Per the constellation article, a constellation is a region in the sky - not a figure. Do you have any reliable sources that show otherwise?--Anders Feder (talk) 17:07, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
"Constellation" as a formally defined region of the Celestial sphere is a relatively recent invention, formalized by the IAU. "Constellation" as a picture assigned to a selection of stars is what the word means etymologically. Different areas were carved up into different constellations in different ways by various cultures in traditional astronomy. Ref: any dictionary and any history of astronomy. Historically, constellations could even overlap, sharing pieces of the sphere with one another (e.g., Lynx and Ursa Major in Flamsteed's catalog). Argo Navis was never a formally defined region of the sky. And even for modern constellations that are, it is still reasonable to say something like: "Orion as defined by the IAU is a formally defined area that accommodates the Greek constellation representing the mythological hunter. This area was divided into different constellations by other astronomical traditions." -- Elphion (talk) 17:23, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Instead of ignoring the request for a source, please name a single "dictionary or history of astronomy" that defines constellation as a figure. Must be very easy for you if it is in "any dictionary and any history of astronomy"...--Anders Feder (talk) 17:37, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Since you aren't likely to find any reliable sources for your claim that a constellation is a figure, we can perhaps discuss changing the wording instead? For instance, we could write "It was identified with the Argo" if you think that is better than what I first suggested. Anything that marks the connection to mythology as a figment of human culture and not something physically true is fine by me.--Anders Feder (talk) 17:53, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

I meant "any dictionary and any history of astronomy" as a good faith answer to your question. Picking at random: The OED: "a number of fixed stars grouped together within the outline of an imaginary figure traced on the face of the sky". American Heritage Dictionary: "a. Any of 88 groups considered to resemble and named after various mythological characters, inanimate objects, and animals. b. An area of the sky occupied by such a group." Chapter One of Ian Ridpath's book "Star Tales" (pp. 1-12) speaks generally of the constellations as "figures", speaking, e.g., of the constellations listed by Ptolemy, which were figures, not areas. The formal meaning of "constellation" among astronomers now refers to the areas defined by the IAU, but historically (and even informally today, as reflected by the sources above) it was the figures that defined them.

I'm happy to discuss the wording; that's why I left you a note in the first place. I think the word "represents" already satisfies your condition ("Anything that marks the connection to mythology as a figment of human culture and not something physically true") since one thing representing another is already a human-based abstraction. "Identified with" is fine too. My only objection to your original was that "is held to represent" is unnecessary periphrasis for the much simpler and equivalent "represents". -- Elphion (talk) 18:35, 11 February 2017 (UTC)

So OED and American Heritage Dictionary both defines constellations as groups of actual stars—groups which invariably will have different interpretations and significance in different cultures—not as figures. I've changed the article per the above.--Anders Feder (talk) 18:48, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
Of course they're "groups of stars" -- but defined by being "grouped together within the outline of an imaginary figure", so that the definition obviously involves interpretation. I appreciate your new revision of the article. -- Elphion (talk) 18:59, 11 February 2017 (UTC)