Grus – the crane

June 11, 2017

Astronomy

The constellation Grus represents a crane. Please note that we mean the large gangling-legged fish-eating bird, not the big load-lifting construction machine.

We’re basically talking three stars here so you can sketch just about anything with a bit of imagination. The brightest stars are named after parts of a fish because the area was carved from what was once part of Piscis Austrinus.

Unfortunately there are no big bird stories to go with the name because it was added around the year 1600 by Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman in an effort to backfill the southern sky. This makes me think that a backhoe might have been an appropriate and interesting allegory for the group.

Grus has a lot of interesting galaxies and other cosmic flotsam and jetsam, including the Spare Tyre Nebula, which is just Spare “Tire” with an international flavor. It’s a good name for an older star that has sort of let itself go.

Next time you are trying come up with a good name for something important, and you are realizing how hard that can be, remember this. The Chinese called the stars of Grus “Baijiu” which basically means “Industrial-Sized Garbage Bin.”

Carpe Noctem

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