THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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AURIGA (the “charioteer” or “waggoner”), in astronomy, a constellation of the northern hemisphere, found in the catalogues of Eudoxus (4th century B.C.) and Aratus (3rd century B.C.). It was symbolized by the Greeks as an old man in a more or less sitting posture, with a goat and her kids in his left hand, and a bridle in his right. The ancient Greeks associated this constellation with many myths. Some assume it to be Erichthonius, son of Athena and Hephaestus, who was translated to the skies by Zeus on account of his invention of chariots or coaches. Others assume it to be Myrtilus, a son of Hermes and Clytic, and charioteer to Oenomaus, who was placed in the heavens by Hermes. Another myth has it to be Olenus, a son of Hephaestus, and father of Aega and Helice, two nymphs who nursed Zeus. Ptolemy catalogued fourteen stars, Tycho Brahe twenty-seven, and Hevelius forty in this constellation. Interesting stars are: α Aurigae or Capella (the goat), one of the brightest stars in the heavens, determined by Newall and Campbell to be a spectroscopic binary; β Aurigae, a star of the second magnitude also a spectroscopic binary; ε Aurigae, an irregularly variable star; and Nova Aurigae, a “new” star discovered by Anderson in 1892, and afterwards found on a photographic plate exposed at Harvard in December 1891. Several fine star clusters also appear in this constellation.
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