The constellation 'Argo Navis', 1603.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration taken from 'Uranometria' (1603) by Johann Bayer. German astronomer and lawyer Bayer (1572-1625) invented the system for naming stars using letters from the Greek alphabet, a system still used today for the brighter stars - those visible to the human eye without the aid of a telescope. 'Uranometria' depicts the positions of nearly 1000 stars in addition to those identified by Tycho Brahe. Argo Navis(or Argus) is an old name for a combination of the four consellations of Carina (the Keel), Vela (the Sail), Puppis (the Stern), and Pyxis (the Compas)1603. It contains Canopus, the second brightest star in the night sky, as well as Eta Carinae, one of the most masive stars yet discovered, which is highly unstable and prone to masive outbursts of energy.