From: Robert H. van Gent
Date: 2020 Dec 29, 11:44 +0000
At the moment I have no clue why Argûs had a circumflex over the ‘u’, I only had Latin for one year at school (long, long ago) but I can check some 19th-century star catalogues and atlases.
You mentioned that the star was occasionally noted in whaler’s logbooks in the 1840s.
This could be of interest for astronomers as there are very few reliable observations of the star during its eruptive phase, especially between the years 1838 (when John Herschel returned from Cape Town to England) and 1850.
A comprehensive overview of the 19th-century observations of η Carinae was given by Robert T.A. Innes in the Revision of the Cape Photographic Durchmusterung (1903)
Any observation of this star between 1838 and 1850 and especially those with a brightness or a colour estimate would significantly add to our knowledge of the star’s behaviour during its eruptive phase.
Rob van Gent
From: NavList@fer3.com <NavList@fer3.com>
On Behalf Of Frank Reed
Sent: Mon 28 December 2020 19:30
To: Gent, R.H. van (Rob) <R.H.vanGent@uu.nl>
Subject: [NavList] Re: Obscure Nautical Almanac star
Rob van Gent, you wrote:
This star, now better known as Eta Carinae, indeed has no Hipparcos number but it does have a Tycho number (8626-2809-1) and was particularly bright in the 1840s."
Yes, indeed! Eta Argus or Eta Carinae, which was one of the brightest stars in the sky from 1837 until about 1857.
Even in the early 20th century, the nautical almanacs frequently listed all those stars now split up in Vela, Puppis, and Carina as members of the constellation Argo (or Argo Navis). Eta Argus was around magnitude 7 or 8, useless for navigation, when it was listed in these almanacs. That's navigation nostalgia at work! It's slowly rising in brightness in recent years, and, who knows, maybe it will have another "Great Eruption" or even "go supernova" as often suggested.
Rob, do you have any idea why the genitive Argûs has a circumflex over the "u"? Is (was) this a styling in "Modern Latin", too, or is it just a peculiar quirk in the typography for this defunct constellation? I haven't found any clues.