Thursday, December 07, 2006

Antlia Pneumatica

A few months ago at a used bookstore, I picked up Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, written in 1963 by one Richard Hinckley Allen. Turning to a random page, I find:

Antlia Pneumatica, The Air Pump,

is La Caille's Machine Pneumatique, at first Latinized as Machina Pneumatica (which occurs in Burritt, and is the Italian name); but astronomers know it as simple Antlia. In Germany it is the Luft Pumpe.
The constellation lies just sount of Crater and Hydra, bordering on the Vela of Argo along the branches of the Milky Way, and culminates on the 6th of April; Gould assigning it eighty-five naked-eye stars.
He thinks that [alpha], the red lucida, may be a variable, as his observers had variously noted as of from the 4th to the 5th magnitude, and Argelander entered both of these.
La Caille's [beta] lies within the present limits of Hydra.
Although inconspicuous, and without any named star, Antlia is of special interest to astronomers from containing the noted variable S, discovered in 1888 by Paul of Washington, and confirmed by Sawyer. Chandler gives its maximum as 6.7 and its minimum as 7.3, the period being 7 hours, 46 minutes, 48 seconds,--the shortest known until it was supplanted by U Pegasi with a period of 5 1/2 hours.

So many, who is Paul of Washington? Extrapolating from the index, which refers me back to this page (43), I gather he was an astronomer, Henry Martin Paul. Not an American apostle.

I googled Antlia for more information and came across the very same quotation posted on this blog about archeoastronomy.

And this site tells us that the Air Pump was named in 1752 after the invention by Robert Boyle.

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