Columba ( Latin: dove), is a small constellation just south of Canis Major and Lepus. It was formed from the 'unformed stars' of Canis Major by Petrus Plancius who depicted it on the small celestial planispheres on his large wall map of 1592. It is also shown on his smaller world map of 1594 and on early Dutch celestial globes.
Its original name, as found on early 17th-century celestial globes and star atlases (such as Bayer's Uranometria of 1603), was Columba Noachi. This of course refers to the Torah's and Bible's Dove of Noah that was the first bird to find land after the Deluge.
The constellation is rather inconspicuous, the brightest star α Columbae having the magnitude of 2.65m. α Columbae is called Phact, which comes from Arabic Al-Fakhita (the dove). The only other named star is Beta, β, Columbae, which has the name Wazn or Wezn, from the Arabic for a weight.
The constellation contains the runaway star μ Columbae, which was probably expelled from the ι Orionis system.
1. ^ Canis Maior and Columba in Bayers Uranometria 1603 (Linda Hall Library)
Canis Major, Lepus, Columba Noachi and Cela Sculptoris
* Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.
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