Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lost Star Profile: Omicron Octantis (ο Oct)

I thought I would start to profile some "Lost Stars", in the sense of Morton Wagman's book of that name. These are stars that, for one reason or another, have temporarily 'lost' the names that they once had.

Omicron Octantis is marked. Sigma, the Pole Star, is the 2nd
star to the 'N-E'.
Omicron Octantis is a blue subgiant (B9.5IV) about 550 pc away. In Octans, most catalogues and atlases omit Omicron, but it does exist. It's HD 1348, and it's very close to the South Celestial pole. In fact, it used to be even closer, which is probably why it was given a Greek letter even though its magnitude is only 7.2V.

It was named in Rumker's catalogue, but Benjamin Gould obviously accepted the designation, for when he came to assign the Greek letters that hadn't yet been used, he omitted omicron. However, it was too faint for inclusion in Gould's catalogue, and too faint for the Bright Star Catalogue or its supplement, so it tends to get forgotten, even by editors of atlases where the magnitude limit is far fainter. Hopefully, they won't make the same mistake in the future!

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