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Introduced in 1688 by the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch to honour the Brandenburg province of Prussia, or more likely its ruler Frederick III. Sceptrum Brandenburgicum lay near the foot of Orion in a large bend in the river Eridanus. It first appeared on a chart published by Kirch in the scientific journal Acta Eruditorum in 1688 but was ignored for nearly a century until Johann Bode, another German, revived it in 1782 in his popular-level star atlas called Vorstellung der Gestirne. In that atlas Bode called it Der Brandenburgische Scepter; later, on his Uranographia atlas of 1801, he adopted Kirch’s original Latin name for it, Sceptrum Brandenburgicum. Its stars are now part of Eridanus.

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Sceptrum Brandenburgicum on Johann Bode’s Uranographia
star atlas of 1801.


© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved


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