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One of the constellations representing technical and artistic apparatus that the Frenchman Nicolas Louis de Lacaille introduced into the southern sky after his observing expedition to the Cape of Good Hope in 1751–52. Lacaille’s original title for the constellation, as given on his planisphere of 1756, was le Chevalet et la Palette, the easel and palette. In 1763 he Latinized this to Equuleus Pictorius (sic), while Bode in 1801 termed it Pluteum Pictoris. In 1844 the English astronomer John Herschel proposed shortening the name to Pictor, a suggestion adopted by Francis Baily in his British Association Catalogue of 1845. It has been known as Pictor ever since.

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Pictor, shown with the name Pluteum Pictoris in the Uranographia of Johann Bode (1801). Bode closely followed Lacaille’s original depiction of the constellation, unlike many other cases.



© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved


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