Star Names and Their Meanings

16 nov. , 2016   Video

star-names-and-their-meaningsRichard Hinckley Allen (1838, Buffalo, New York – 1908, Northampton, Massachusetts) was a gifted polymath and amateur naturalist; his wide range of interests caused his friends to nickname him „the walking encyclopedia.” His youthful ambition to pursue astronomy was thwarted by poor eyesight, and he became a moderately successful businessman instead. He continued in scientific pursuits as a hobby for the rest of his life. First published in 1899 as Star-Names and Their Meanings, this work collected the origins of the names of stars and constellations from a panoply of sources, some primary but most secondary; also telling briefly the various myths and folklore connected with stars in the Greco-Roman tradition; as well as in the Arabic, Babylonian, Indian and Chinese traditions, for which, however, some modern criticism having taken it to task, claiming it to be largely superseded. The book also provides some cursory details about astronomy at the knowledge level of the end of the 19th century. Similarly, astrology and its history are dealt with briefly in the introduction, and some other basic astrological references are scattered throughout the book, although downplayed. (SURSA)

Assessment: Allen rendered a very valuable service to those of us interested in the nomenclature and historical evolution of the constellations and their stars. His book is a mine (or maybe a minefield!) of varied information not only on its primary subject, but also here and there on ancient myth and religion, folklore, astrology both modern and ancient, the heroic age of modern astronomy, and the occasional bit of botany or zoology. Inevitably, though, in a work of such magnitude, and one that is now already over a hundred years old, there will be room for fault. The three principal shortcomings of the book are that it is not as systematic as the subject deserves, sometimes a downright jumble of ancient languages and afterthoughts and digressions and backtracking; that the astronomy predates Palomar and the Hubble telescope, radar and quasars, by decades and decades and is best taken lightly, as a window into the late 19c rather than into the stuff of the Universe; and, most seriously, that the sources are condensed, for the most part uncited, and — worst of all — trusted. (SURSA) >>> DETALII

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