Q:

Who named the stars Vega and Rigel?

A:

While no specific person is credited with naming the stars Vega and Rigel, both derive their name from Arabic terms. Rigel is one of the first stars to receive an Arabic name, possibly as early as the 10th century, while written records of Vega's name trace back to between 1215 to 1270 A.D. Rigel's scientific name is Beta Orionis, while Vega is known as either Alpha Lyrae or Lucida Lyrae.

Rigel's name derives from the Arabic phrase "Rijl Jauzah al Yusr??," roughly translating to "the left leg of the Jauzah," or "the left leg of the giant," possibly referring to its location in the constellation Orion. Rigel was called different names by early observers of the stars, including "Seba-en-Sah" by the ancient Egyptians, "The Seventh of the Three Stars" by the Chinese and "Little Woodpecker" by the Lacandon people of Central America.

Vega's name comes from the Arabic phrase "Al Nesr al Waki," meaning "The Falling Eagle." The first written record of the name occurs in the Alfonsine Tables created in medieval Spain. Vega, like Rigel, was known by different names in different ancient, star-gazing cultures, including "The Year Star" by the Polynesians, "Judge of Heaven" by the Assyrians and the mythical character "Weaving Girl" by the Chinese.


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