Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Constellation Capricornus


The silver stars and silhouette of Capricornus the goat with the fish-tail are illustrated in this handmade block print. Capricorn (♑) is the tenth astrological sign in the Zodiac, originating from the constellation of Capricornus. I printed an edition of ten prints, 5.75 inches by 10 inches (14.6 cm by 24.8 cm) on lovely, handmade, Japanese kozo (or mulberry) paper with a deckle edge. Since the paper is handmade, there is some small variation in size and the edge of each sheet. The word Capricornus (the name of the constellation) and symbol ♑ appear at the bottom of the image. The lines linking the constellation appear in black-on-silver or silver-on-black as appropriate. There are several star clusters, shown as circles.

Capricornus was recognized by Ptolemy. It is located in a part of the sky known as The Sea or the Water, and is near other water-themed constellations Aquarius, Pisces and Eridanus. It's fascinationg how we a) see a group of stars and a constellation and often agree upon groupings across cultures and b) decide what the shape delineated by the stars might represent. Apparently we decided that this particular, faint group of stars was a goat-fish as early as the Bronze Age, at least in Babylon. Unlike some constellations which seem to have the same interpretation across many cultures, you may not be surprised to learn that the Chinese do not view this a goat-fish. Rather, these stars are within in The Black Tortoise of the North.

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