Friday, 24 July 2015

Astrognome Astronomy Poniatowski’s Bull

Poniatowski’s Bull

Some distance south of the brightest star in Ophiuchus the serpent bearer it is easy to find the stars beta and gamma Ophiuchi. Close to gamma is a little group of stars none of which have Greek letters.


These stars are labelled 66 Ophiuchi, 67, 68, and 70. These once formed a little constellation called Poniatowski’ Bull. It was placed in the heavens by Abbe Poczobut of Wilna in 1777 to honour Stanislaus Poniatowski, King of Poland.  He was the last King and Grand Duke of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.



Alas similar to that commonwealth the constellation also no longer survives today and cannot be found on any modern star map.

If you want to find a constellation with Polish connections move slightly to the left and look for the small and faint constellation of Scutum the shield.  It was originally known as Scutum Sobiescianum (Shield of Sobieski), today it is shortened to Scutum.




Scutum was named in 1684 by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius to commemorate the victory of the Christian forces led by Polish King John III Sobieski in the Battle of Vienna in 1683. Later, the name was shortened to Scutum.


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