Le Monnier’s Solitaire

This depiction of the Solitaire by the French engraver Yves-Marie Le Gouaz (1742–1816) accompanied Pierre Le Monnier's announcement of the new constellation in the Mémoires de l’Académie Royale des Sciences 1776. Unfortunately the bird shown on the engraving is not the Rodrigues solitaire as Le Monnier had intended, but rather a blue rock thrush, known as the solitaire of the Philippines. Whether the error was due to Le Monnier or Le Gouaz is unknown.

In his paper Le Monnier listed 22 stars from his own observations, but his chart shows 22 more, both in and around the constellation figure. The constellation’s brightest star was of third magnitude, positioned in the bird's lower chest. Le Monnier labelled it Gamma, because it had been Johann Bayer’s Gamma Scorpii; but Ptolemy in the Almagest had included it in Libra and it is now back in that constellation, where it is known as Sigma Librae.

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