Say What? "Fomalhaut"

posted: 2506 days ago, on Tuesday, 2010 Nov 09 at 19:39
tags: astronomy, stars.

Piscis Austrinus, the Southern Fish, is a dim southern constellation with a brilliant lucida, Fomalhaut (alpha Piscis Austrini). It can be seen from mid-July to mid-January.

Approximate original pronunciation:

fm' l hout

: short sound, offer, dog
: short sound, much, come
ou: long sound, out, now

So this would be something like: fom ullhowt, with the accent on the last part. Now say it five times.

The origin of the name is traced back to the Arabic-Islamic culture (approximately 760AD onward), where is was recorded as fam al-hut al-janubi, which means "the Mouth of the Southern Fish".

In medieval times, its Latinized name was Os Piscis Meridiani and Os Piscis Notii, also meaning "the Mouth of the Southern Fish".

In colloquial Arabic it is known as Difda al Auwel, "the First Frog". (The Second Frog is Diphda, beta Ceti.)

Fomalhaut is the 18th brightest star in the sky, and is a white main-sequence dwarf (A3 V). It's also one of the nearest stars to us, a mere 25 light years away. Fomalhaut can be easily found by drawing a line from Canopus to Achernar and extending it for a similar distance.

References

A Dictionary of Modern Star Names, Kunitzsch and Smart.
Bright Star Catalogue, 5th ed., Hoffleit and Warren Jr.
Third Catalogue of Nearby Stars, 3rd ed., Gliese and Jahreiss

"Say What?" is a series of articles focusing on the pronunciation of star names. In addition to a star chart showing the location of the star, you'll find guidelines for saying its name and some background on where the name comes from.

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