A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Position-Finding
From: Robin Stuart
Date: 2017 Dec 7, 11:31 -0800
Another feature that stands out in browsing old Almanacs is the use of star names in the constellation of Argo Navis. The IAU officially broke this large constellation apart into the constellations of Carina, Puppis and Vela in 1930. The almanacs used an idosyncratic mix of constellation designations. In the American Nautical Almanac some star names continued to refer to Argo until 1939. The NA of 1940 was the first time that Canopis was referred to as α Carinæ rather than α Argus. I don't have a corresponding date for the British NA as they are a bit harder to find online.
I have compiled a list of Argo stars that appear in lists in the 1916 British or 1939 American Almanacs. With the help of my trusty and well-worn Norton's Star Atlas I was able to find their "modern" designations. The results are in the attached spreadsheet. Note that the Greek letters from Argo were generally retained and not reassigned within the new constellations. Hence there is an α and β in Carina but none in Puppis or Vela. Note also that the British refer to α Pyxidis (constellation Pyxis the compass) as α Mali (constellation Malus the mast). The latter constellation did not survive but acknowledges the fact that, as Argo was supposedly the ancient Greek ship of Jason and the Argonauts, it wouldn't have had a magnetic compass,