Sunday, July 26, 2020
WAS THE STAR OF ANTINOUS A COMET?
By Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia
By Flamen Antinoalis Antonius Subia
AS there is a COMET in the sky, which comes at the most opportune time, when the world seems to be falling apart all on its own without the need for ominous portents of worse to come, I thought I would share two new texts I have found which concern the STAR OF ANTINOUS and are also about comets.
The discussion for many years has been whether the original Star of Antinous was a Super Nova or a Comet. The ancients did not know what a comet really was so they sometimes referred to them as New Stars.
Aristotle distinguished between two types “bearded” new stars and “combed” new stars, the first had a tail, the second had a halo, but both of these moved across the sky from constellation to constellation..whereas a third type, simply called Stella Nova, did not move and did not have either a tail nor a head of hair...we might call these Shaven New Stars!
The Ancient texts do not say much about the Star of Antinous, Dio Cassius says that it was all a fiction made up by Hadrian's associates:
“Finally, he declared that he had seen a star which he took to be that of Antinous, and gladly lent an ear to the fictitious tales woven by his associates to the effect that the star had really come into being from the spirit of Antinous and had then appeared for the first time. On this account, then, he became the object of some ridicule.”
By his associates, we assume the Greek scholars who Hadrian always kept around. Dio Cassius says that they were trying to impress Hadrian, who went along with the story.
Hadrian was nobody's fool, he was well studied in astronomy and would have known if there was really a new star in the sky, or if they were just flattering him. That is all the ancient sources say about the star, no description and no location given.
The astronomer Ptolemy, who was 10 years older than Antinous and would have been in his prime years at the Museion of Alexandria when Hadrian and Antinous visited, and would have been well aware of the New Star and how it had been attributed to Antinous, some years later in his book the Almagest placed the Constellation Antinous next to Aquila, the Eagle.
This is how we know where the Star of Antinous took place and the comparison to Ganymede and Jupiter with Antinous and Hadrian, justified the name change (modern astronomers have since erased Antinous from the sky.)
The Star of Antinous appeared in a fixed place, within the boundaries of the 6 or 7 stars assigned by Ptolemy, there is no mention of a comet.
The Star of Antinous appears on a few of his coins, shown as a star above his shoulder, but there is no tail, beard or hair. The Star of Bar Kochba the leader of the Jewish revolt, whose name means, Son of the Star, appears on Jewish coins in the year 133, it is also shown as a star without a tail.
Chinese records appear to record that a comet was seen in the early morning sky just before sunrise in late January in a year corresponding to 133. The Chinese did not differentiate between Supernova Stars and Comets.
The first person to assert that it was what we now understand to be a SuperNova Star visible with the naked eye was Alexandre Guy Pingre in 1783, who while describing major comets of the past makes an entry for the year 132.
He relates the story as told by Dio Cassius and substantiates why he believes there really was a star and that it was not just “court flattery” and that the change of name from Ganymede to Antinous is proof not only that something really happened, but also that it wasn't a comet.
He says another astronomer named Nicholas Struyck said that the comet of 132 was the same comet as the one observed in 1652, which seems to have passed through the Constellation Antinous.
I still have not yet found a drawing of the path of this comet, but I'll keep trying, also I need to find Struyck's text because it is one of the first modern references to Antinous.
Pingre says that the comet of 1652 cannot have been the same comet as in 132 because it did not "Appear" in the Constellation of Antinous, like Dio Cassius says...and we can continue...it did not stay in Aquila, but like all comet's it moved across the sky.
And so what Pingre is concluding is that the Star of Antinous was a New Star, what we call a Nova and understand to be a previously unknown star that suddenly flares up so incredibly that it goes from completely invisible to visible with a telescope, which happens surprisingly often.
And then there are the wonderful occasions called Supernovas which can be seen with the naked eye, they are very rare, but happen from time to time.
There was a SUPER NOVA IN 1999 in the constellation Aquila, and the brightest supernova ever recorded also occurred in Aquila in 1918. There have been about 11 lesser Novae in Aquila from 1993-2015, so the possibility that there was a dramatic Supernova in 132 that Hadrian and his Greek Astronomers witnessed is very probable.
The second text I found is the observations made by Thaddeus Hagecius of the 1577 comet. As the comet progresses across the sky he plots its course and the length of its tail by measuring how far it is from the stars of the constellations it passes through. When it enters Antinous, he takes a moment to explain that Antinous was the boy who Hadrian deliciously "had."
One important thing about the comet of 1577 is that another astronomer named Tycho Brahe was able to determine that the comet was further away from Earth than the moon by comparing the observations of Hagecius and calculating the difference from where he observed it from his own location. So in a sense, Antinous played a part in this discovery.
The pictures on this entry are of the comet of 1680 which is said to be one of the most important because it was the first comet discovered with a telescope and was observed by the most famous astronomers of the time including Newton. This comet also passed through Antinous.
Antinous gets a lot of celestial action it seems. So as we enjoy the disturbing omen in the sky of more fun times as yet to come for our world on this eve of destruction, please enjoy these references about Comets and Antinous given in French and Latin with my translation.
May Antinous of the Heavens shine his starlight upon us
ALEXANDRE GUY PINGRE
132. Adrien ecoutoit avec satisfaction ceux qui disoient que l'ame d'Antinojus avoit ete changee en une nouvelle etoile, que l'on voyoit depius peu de jours. Cette flatterie de cour prove-t-elle bien decisivement la realite de cette nouvelle etoile? Adrien, dit Dion, pretendoit voir l'etoile d'Antinous: cela suffisoit pour faire voir a des courtisans ce qu'ils ne voyoient peut-etre pas reellement. On voyoit sans doute, ou l'on croyoit voir cette etoile dans la constellation de Ganimedes enleve par l'Aigle, et s'est apparemment ce qui a donne occasion de changer le nom de Ganimedes en celui d'Antinous. En admettant la realite de l'etoile, il resteroit a decider si cette etoile etoit une comete. Struyck le croit; il juge meme que cette comete est celle de 1652 ; si cela est, cette nouvelle etoile n'a pu paroitre dan la constellation d'Antinous.
132. Hadrian listened with satisfaction to those who said that the soul of Antinous had changed into a new star, which had been seen for a few days. Does this flattery of court prove decisively the reality of this new star? Hadrian, said Dio Cassius, pretended to see the star of Antinous: that was enough to make the courtiers see what perhaps they did not really see. Without a doubt they saw, or thought they saw this star in the constellation of Ganymede elevated by the Eagle, and apparently this is what occasioned the change of name of Ganymede to that of Antinous. We admit the reality of the star, it remains however to decide whether the star was a comet. Struyck believed it; he even judges that this comet is that of 1652; but if that is the case, the new star could not have appeared in the constellation of Antinous.
The Comet of 1577, observation notes
17 partib. 52 scrap. A secunda stella ex informibus eius Aquilae, que Antinoi illius pueri, ab Hadriani Imperatore in deliciis habiti, esse quidam fabulantur, 13 partib & totidem scrupulis primus
17 degrees 52 minutes from the second star of Aquila,
Of Antinous, that boy of Emperor Hadrian who was deliciously taken, so the story goes;
13 degrees and as many minutes (13) from the first.