Source: Vincenzo Coronelli, Celestial Globe Gores (Paris, 1693; reprint ca. 1800); History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries
Object: Robert’s Quartet in Phoenix the Fire Bird; ESO/European Southern Observatory (CC-by)
Composite: The Sky Tonight, skytonight.org (CC-by)
These four interacting galaxies (NGC 87, NGC 88, NGC 89 and NGC 92) are in the process of colliding and merging. John Herschel discovered them in the 1830s. Halton Arp and Barry F. Madore included them in their 1987 Catalogue of Southern Peculiar Galaxies.
Constellations IAU Abbr
Phoenix the Fire Bird was one of eleven southern constellations created by Pieter Dirksz Keyser and Frederick de Houtman in 1596. The mythical Phoenix would end its life in a burning conflagration, only to rise once more from its ashes and live again. Like the Phoenix, Robert’s Quartet of galaxies also are a conflagration and burning, from which new stars will rise once more.
Coronelli was an influential maker of celestial and terrestrial globes.
To make a globe, 24 pie-shaped map sections, called gores, would be hand-colored, cut out and glued onto a wood and paper-maché base. This gore was part of a set produced in 1693 to make a celestial globe three and a half feet in diameter. At the time, it was the largest and most accurate printed celestial globe.
Legends are in Greek, Latin, French and Italian.Coronelli-1693
From Bode's Tab I planisphere.
Uranographia Tab I. Stellatum Hemisphaeri um Arietis.
Bode included two planisphere plates. They are not southern and northern hemispheres; each one has Polaris at the top and the south pole at the bottom. Each one is centered upon an equinox point (where the ecliptic or path of the Sun and the celestial equator intersect). The March equinox point was in Aries in antiquity; by Bode’s time, due to the precession of the equinoxes, it had shifted to Pisces. The September equinox point was in Libra in antiquity; by Bode’s time it had shifted to Virgo. Bode titled the plates as the Aries and Libra planispheres.
The Aries planisphere, centered on the March equinox in Pisces, includes these constellations, among others, which appear high overhead in the night skies of autumn:
Equatorial: Orion, Taurus, Harpa Georgii, Cetus, Aries, Pisces, Pegasus, Aquarius, Aquila, Scutum.
Northern: Auriga, Perseus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Draco, Honores Frederici, Cepheus, Cygnus, Lyra.
Southern: Eridanus, Apparatus Chemicus, Machina Electrica, Apparatus Sculptoris, Horologium, Toucan, Phoenix, Grus, Indus, Pavo, Tubus Astronomicus, Octans Nautica, Microscopium, Sagittarius, Globus Aerostatic.
In March, the Aries-Pisces equinox (the center of the Aries planisphere) is traveling with the Sun, rising in the east in the mornings and setting in the west in the evenings. Imagine the center of the planisphere has the Sun pinned to it for that day, and that’s how it would move across the sky. Therefore the constellations near the center of this planisphere are invisible in the daytime sky at that time unless there is a solar eclipse. They would be visible directly opposite the Sun at the September equinox.
Clockwise from top center: Pavo, Apis, Triangulum Australe, Musca, Chamaeleon, Volans, Dorado, Nubecula Major, Phoenix (left margin), Grus (outside upper left), Indus (left of Pavo), Tucana (below Grus), Hydrus (below Tucana, near center), and Nubecula Minor (just under Hydrus).
IAU Constellation Main Page
Intro and Visual description
Taurus the Bull is easily spotted. Its head is the Hyades, a V-shaped cluster of stars. His horns point outward from the V. Aldebaran is the red eye of the Bull as he charges down upon us.