In AD 850 Albumazar, an Arab astronomer, described the 48 original constellations, listed in 12 groups of four, progressing around the zodiac.This list doesn’t quite match our modern list. Our modern constellations are almost identical to another ancient list –that of Ptolemy. Ptolemy was a Greek astronomer who was born in 100 AD and who not only listed 48 constellations, but also described the exact position of each in the sky. Much of his information came from the Greek scholar Eudoxus of 300 BC, whose work was preserved in a poem called Phenomena by the Greek poet Aratus.
These two lists (Albumazar’s and Ptolemy’s) mostly agree, but disagree on three, and one of Albumazar’s is entirely missing from Ptolemy’s list. Albumazar describes this missing constellation as follows:
Virgo is a sign of two parts and three forms. There arises in the first decan, as the Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians, the two Hermes and Ascalius teach, a young woman, whose Persian name translated into Arabic is Adrenedefa, a pure and immaculate virgin, holding in the hand two ears of corn, sitting on a throne, nourishing an infant, in the act of feeding him, who has a Hebrew name (the boy, I say) by some nations named Ihesu, with the signification Ieza, which we in the Greek call Christ.” Frances Rolleston, Mazzaroth, Kessinger Legacy Reprints, Part II, p 17.
Another correlation with this is on the ancient Dendera Planisphere of Egypt, where we find near Virgo (below rather than above–but many figures don’t appear in their real locations) the figure of a woman sitting on a chair holding an infant.
John Pratt (http://johnpratt.com/items/docs/Ids/meridian/2004/prince.html) suggests that this missing constellation should be placed on our planisphere above Virgo and using the stars in Coma Bernices which form sort of a chair and then also the two stars of the modern constellation, Hunting Dogs, for the figure of the infant. One of the stars in the Hunting Dogs is Cor Caroli (Charles’ Heart after Charles II of England). Cor Caroli is a very bright star, fitting for representing the Christ child.
Pull out your Uncle Al’s Star Wheel and find it. Above Virgo is Coma Bernices and right above Coma Bernices are the two stars of Hunting Dogs, a new constellation which is not labeled on Uncle Al’s Star Wheel. There is another interesting landmark in this area. The Virgin’s Diamond is composed of Arcturus (in Bootes), Cor Caroli (in Hunting Dogs), Denebola (in tail of Leo), and Spica (in Virgo).
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