Today's featured picture


Monoceros is a faint constellation on the celestial equator, not easily visible to the naked eye. Its name is Greek for 'unicorn'. The constellation is attributed to the 17th-century Dutch cartographer Petrus Plancius. Clockwise from north, it is bordered by Gemini, Orion, Lepus, Canis Major, Puppis, Hydra and Canis Minor.

This illustration is plate 31 of Urania's Mirror, a set of 32 astronomical star chart cards illustrated by Sidney Hall and first published in 1824. Monoceros is fancifully depicted here as a prancing unicorn, being ridden by a small dog, representing Canis Minor. Underneath the unicorn is "Atelier Typographique", an obsolete constellation representing a printing press that has since been absorbed into Puppis. Urania's Mirror was originally advertised as containing "all the constellations visible in the British Empire", but that was not in fact the case, as some of the southern constellations are missing. The first edition showed only the stars in the featured constellations, with surrounding stars omitted; this illustration is from the second edition and includes the surrounding stars.

Lithograph credit: Sidney Hall; restored by Adam Cuerden

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