Argo Navis constellation, 1603

Argo Navis constellation, 1603

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Argo Navis constellation. 17th century engraving of Argo Navis (the Argo ship), overlaid with the positions of the stars that make up this constellation. This ship, in Greek legends, was sailed by Jason and the Argonauts on the quest of the Golden Fleece. It was a large constellation that has since been broken up to form the modern constellations of Carina (the Keel), Puppis (the Stern) and Vela (the Sail). This star map is from Uranometria, a star atlas published in 1603 by the German astronomer Johann Bayer. It contained a total of 51 star maps, plotted using the most accurate observations of the time. It was the first star atlas to use reference grids on its maps, and the first to use Greek letters to identify individual stars, though it retained the traditional mythological depictions of the constellations.

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