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σποράδες ἀστέρες

see also:

scattered stars

Aristotle METE

σποράδες ἀστέρες

Lucretius DRN

Seneca NQ

References for Greek and Latin

a star cluster
Modern Description

written by Susanne M Hoffmann

It is not clear whether or not (and if, then if for all astronomers) "scattered stars" is a technical term. In modern astronomy, there is the term "star cluster" which is a technical term denoting that there is a physical relation between the stars that are seen in a cluster. For instance: there is the star cluster of the Hyades in Taurus but the bright star Aldebaran that is seen among them is, in fact, at a closer distance: Aldebaran is at ~65 light years while the Hyades are roughly 153 light years away. So, in the modern sense of the term, Aldebaran does not belong to the star cluster of the Hyades although it appears like this in the sky.

In antiquity, however, the distances to the stars were unknown. Neither it was known that they have different distances. They were considered to be attached to a hollow sphere around the Earth. Therefore, star catalogues from ancient times and from Mesopotamia (MUL.APIN first list) as well as Ptolemy's Almagest from Roman time, include fuzzy agglomerations of stars and used a technical term to describe them. These "associations of stars" were grouped only by their appearance in the sky. These ancient "star clusters" were described as "nebulous stars" by Ptolemy and as "swarm of stars" in MUL.APIN. It is well possible that Aristotle used this term in a similar sense.

Further Remarks

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