STAR LORE
 

STORIES FROM THE STARS
 
 

Monoceros the Unicorn
 
 
Monoceros started to appear on charts in the early 17th century but there are conflicting statements on who introduced it and when.  It apparently appeared on some early Persian star charts as well.  It is a faint constellation, none of the main stars that make the pattern of unicorn are brighter than 4th magnitude, despite lying half in the star clouds of the Milky Way and being adjacent to Orion and Canis Major. 

Unicorns are a mythical creature - usually described as a beautiful white horse with a single spiral horn protruding from it's forehead.  There are several references to unicorns in the Bible.  They were a symbol of purity and goodness and their horns had great magical properties that were much sort after.  The twisted horns of narwhals, from the Arctic Sea, were sometimes passed off as unicorn horns.  There is a story that the unicorns didn't make it onto Noah's Ark, so were left to drown in the rising waters.  They either vanished, which is why we see none now, or they turned into the narwhal to survive in the ocean.  Unicorns were also mentioned in Chinese histories and were omens of great portent.  


An excerpt from Reiner & Josua Otenns' 
Atlas van Zeevaert en Koophandel Door de Geheele Weereldt, 1745.
Monoceros between the two celestial dogs.  
 

This article is ©2002 Stargazers Astronomy Shop

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