New- Star Chart For Cayman

A new feature as of June 2015 has been added - look at the bottom of this web page and there is a new Star Chart exclusively for Grand Cayman

Pedro Castle, September 19th, 7.00 p.m. 2012

Mars will be very close to the crescent moon in the faint constellation of Libra on viewing night.  Libra was known in Babylonian astronomy as MUL Zibanu ("the scales"), or alternatively as the Claws of the Scorpion. The scales were held sacred to the sun god Shamash, who was also the patron of truth and justice. It was also seen as the Scorpion's Claws in ancient Greece. Since these times, Libra has been associated with law, fairness and civility. In Arabic zubānā means "scorpion's claws", and likely similarly in other Semitic languages: this resemblance of words may be why the Scorpion's claws became the Scales.

    Alternatively, another source says the Romans made it into a separate constellation in the time of Julius Caesar. Since then the Scales of Libra have become regarded as the symbol of justice, held aloft by the goddess of justice, Astraea. One legend identifies Astraea with the neighbouring figure of Virgo.

     The two brightest stars, the alpha and beta of the constellation, are called Zubenelgenubi and Zubeneschamali respectively. Zubeneschamali, the northern one of the two, comes from an Arabic phrase meaning "the northern claw," that of the Alpha star meaning "the southern claw”.

    The illustration above comes from Alexander Jamieson’s Celestial Atlas which appeared in February 1822, with a second edition following in September that same year. For all the fame that the Atlas achieved, its author remains little known. He evidently had a wide knowledge of science, mathematics and languages, for he wrote a number of educational works on subjects as diverse as cartography, logic, rhetoric, algebra, mechanics and hydrostatics as well as editing a Latin dictionary and running a series of private schools

   Jamieson was born in Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, west Scotland, in 1782, the son of a wheelwright. He obtained MA and LLD degrees from Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1821 and 1823. In 1825 he became a mature student at St John’s College Cambridge but there is no record that he ever resided there or obtained any degree. In fact, he seems to have spent most of his working life in and around London as a writer, teacher and finally an actuary.

     Venus shines bright in the east before long before dawn, and Jupiter is overhead, close to the red giant star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus.