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Maximilian Hell, the Hungarian-born director of the Vienna observatory, introduced this constellation in 1789 from stars beneath the feet of Taurus. He showed it under the name Psalterium Georgianum on a chart published in 1789 in the annual Ephemerides astronomicae for 1790 (a psaltery is an ancient form of harp). The constellation honours King George III of England, patron of William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus. Both Herschel and King George were of German extraction. Bode, another German, changed the name to Harpa Georgii on his Uranographia atlas of 1801. Its stars are now part of northern Eridanus.

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Harpa Georgii in the Uranographia of Johann Bode (1801).


© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved


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