, a fixed star of the first magnitude, between the thighs of the constellation Bootes. So called from ark<*>os, bear, and <*>ra, tail; as being near the bear's tail.

This star is twice mentioned in the book of Job, viz, ix. 9, and xxxviii. 32, by the name Aish if the translation be right; and by many of the ancients under its Greek name Arcturus. The Greeks gave the fabulous history of this star, or constellation, to this purport: Calisto, who was afterwards, in form of the great bear, raised up into a constellation, they tell us, brought forth a son to Jupiter, whom they called Arcas. That Lyacon, when Jupiter afterwards came to visit him, cut the boy in pieces, and served him up at table. Jupiter, in revenge, as well as by way of punishment, called down lightning to consume the palace, and turned the monarch into a wolf. The limbs of the boy were gathered up, to which the god gave life again, and he was taken and educated by some of the people. His mother, who was all this time a bear in the woods, fell in his way: he chased her, ignorant of the fact, and, to avoid him, she threw herself into the temple of Jupiter: he followed her thither to destroy her; and this being death by the laws of the country, Jupiter took them both up into heaven, to prevent the punishment, making her the constellation of the great bear, and converting the youth into this single star behind her.

Dr. Hornsby, the Savilian Professor of Astronomy, concludes that Arcturus is the nearest star to our system visible in the northern hemisphere, because the variation of its place, in consequence of a proper motion of its own, is more remarkable than that of any other of the stars; and by comparing a variety of observations respecting both the quantity and direction of the motion of this star, he infers, that the obliquity of the ecliptic decreases at the rate of 58″ in 100 years; a quantity which nearly corresponds to the mean of the computations framed by Euler and De la Lande, upon the principles of attraction. Philos. Trans. v. 63.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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