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Star Lore of the Constellations:  Triangulum - by Deborah Houlding




Notable stars in Triangulum: Epoch 2000
Longitude Name Nature Mag. Position Lat. Dec.
06 Tau 52 Metallah Mercury 3.6 Head of the Triangle 17N 30N


The Triangle lies to the south of Andromeda on the edge of the Milky Way. Aratus and many earlier authors called it Deltoton because of its deltoid shape:

...drawn with three sides, whereof two appear equal but the third is less, yet very easy to find, for beyond many it is endowed with stars.[1]

It is believed that this is one of the oldest constellations, and that its stars were brighter and more noticeable to the ancients than they are today. By association, the constellation was also known as 'Delta' and therefore linked to Egypt and the Nile, which probably founded the astrological influence noted by Noonan: "it presages events concerning rivers and streams, and also as regards the weather".[2]

Other titles included Sicilia because mythologically it is said to have been placed in the heavens by Jupiter at the request of Ceres who asked that the shape of her island Sicily might be represented amongst the stars. It was here that Piazzi discovered the first minor planet Ceres on the first New Year's day of the 19th century.

The nature of the stars in this constellation, according to Ptolemy, is like Mercury,[3] and by influence they are said to promote an interest in architecture, freemansonary, the legal profession and the like. Due to the qualities of harmony and balance naturally symbolised by the shape of the triangle, this is also considered to be a benevolent constellation which gives the attributes of fair-mindedness, truth, integrity and righteousness. Its main star, which typifies the qualities of the constellation, is Metallah (deriviation of the Arabic muthallath, 'triangle'). This is a 3rd magnitude yellow star which is also known by the title 'Head of the Triangle', in Latin as Caput Trianguli, and in Arabic as Ras al Muthallath.

The Sun crosses Metallah around 27th April each year.



Notes & References:
  1 ] Aratus, Phainomena, (early C3rd BC), Harvard Heinemann, Loeb Classical Library,v.235 (Loeb p.225).

See also Manilius, Astronomica, (c.10 AD), Harvard Heinemann, Loeb Classical Library, I.350-355 (Loeb p.33):

There follows, with two equal sides parted by one unequal, a sign seen flashing with three stars and named Deltoton, called after its likeness.

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  2 ] G. Noonan, Fixed Stars and Judicial Astrology, 1990, AFA, p.33.
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  3 ] Ptolemy, I.9 (Loeb p.57)
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© Deborah Houlding. Adapted from an article first published in The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, issue 19; January 2000. Published online July 2008.

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