Additional images of Argo

  Whatever Johann Bayer’s Uranometria atlas of 1603 may have lacked in strict positional accuracy it more than made up for in artistic merit. Here the Argo is seen passing between the Clashing Rocks at the mouth of the Black Sea. Bayer depicts some of the ship’s oars splintering on the rocks, and the yard arm with the furled sail also appears to have snapped. The brilliant star Canopus lies on the blade of the portside steering oar, as described by Ptolemy. (Image: Tartu Observatory Virtual Museum.)

  Johannes Hevelius depicted an even more elaborate Argo in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum of 1690. As with all the constellations on his charts, Hevelius showed Argo as a mirror image, as it would appear on the surface of a globe. Here, the spar around which the sail is furled is slanted at an angle to the main mast. Such an arrangement is termed a lateen rig and was common in the Mediterranean. Again, Canopus is prominent on the large steering paddle at the stern. The Clashing Rocks seen in Bayer’s representation have been replaced by Edmond Halley’s recent invention Robur Carolinum, here named Robur Caroli. (Image: Tartu Observatory Virtual Museum.)

  In Johann Bode’s 1782 star atlas Vorstellung der Gestirne, a smaller forerunner of the giant Uranographia, Argo made only a partial appearance on one chart. Bode showed it with its sail furled to a lateen-type yard arm, as had John Flamsteed in his Atlas Coelestis of 1729. Compare this with Bode’s later depiction of Argo in Uranographia, shown on the previous page, where there is no main mast and the yard arm appears to emerge from the sternpost like a spar. (Image: Author’s collection.)

  Nicolas Louis de Lacaille drew Argo on his planisphere of the southern skies published in 1756. This is a copy of it from Jean Fortin’s Atlas Céleste. Lacaille showed the mast as either bent or broken; alternatively, perhaps the vertical part is intended to be the main mast and the horizontal part the yard arm. Lacaille referred to this as ‘the horizontal mast, or the spar on which the sail is reefed’. Above the sails Lacaille introduced a new constellation, la Boussole, representing a marine compass; this is now known as Pyxis. In the catalogue that accompanied this chart Lacaille split Argo into three parts: Carina (Corps), Puppis (Pouppe), and Vela (Voilure), although there is no indication of this on his chart. In the second edition of the planisphere, published in 1763 along with Lacaille’s final catalogue, the French names were replaced by Latin ones. For a zoomable version of the 1763 chart, see here. (Image: Author’s collection.)

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