Fixed star:  FOMALHAUT
Constellation:  Alpha (α) Piscis Austrinus
Longitude 1900:  02PIS27 Longitude 2000:  03PIS52
Declination 1900:  -30.09' Declination 2000:  -29.38'
Right ascension:  22h 57m Latitude:  -21.08'
Spectral class:  A2 Magnitude:  1.16

The history of the star: Fomalhaut

from p.345 of Star Names, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889.
[A scanned copy can be viewed on this webpage]

FomalhautAlpha (α) Piscis Austrinus, Fomalhaut, is a reddish star in the mouth of the Southern Fish, Piscis Austrinus (not to be confused with the constellation Pisces).

Fomalhaut, from the Arabic Fum al Hut, the Fish's Mouth, has long been the common name for this star, the English astronomer Smyth (1788-1865) saying that Fom Alhout Al-genubi appears, with its translation Os Piscis Meridiani, in a still existing manuscript almanac of 1340.

The Greek astronomer Aratus, circa 270 B.C., distinctly mentioned it as

"One large and bright by both the Pourer's (Aquarius) feet,"

which is its location in the maps of to-day, although sometimes it has marked the eye of the Fish, and formerly was still differently placed, as is noted at beta (β).

In addition to putting it in its own constellation, the second-century Greek astronomer Ptolemy inserted it in his Udrochoos, and Flamsteed followed him in making it his 24 of Piscis Australis and 79 of Aquarius, calling it Aquae Ultima Fomalhaut.

No other star seems to have had so varied an orthography.

The Alfonsine Tables of 1521 locate it in Aquarius as Fomahant and of the 1st magnitude, but they describe it in Piscis Meridionalis as in ore, omitting its title and calling it a 4th-magnitude. The other editions of these Tables, and the 13th century Persian astronomical writer Al Kazwini, do not mention it at all in this constellation Piscis Austrinus, but {p.346} in Aquarius; nor does the seventeenth century French astronomer Bullialdus in his edition of the Rudolphine Tables, although in his reproduction of the Persian Tables of the 14th century Greco-Persian astronomer Chrysococca he calls it Os Piscis notii and Fumahaud. The Astronomica Danica of Longomontanus includes it in Aquarius as ultima in effusione Fomahant, giving no Piscis at all; the 16th century Danish astronomer Tycho's Rudolphine Tables, in Kepler's edition of 1627, have the same, and Hevelius also puts it there as Fomahandt. The 17th century German astronomer Bayer cites it, in Piscis Notius, as Fumahant, Fumahaut rectius Fumalhaut; English writer on globes John Chilmead (circa 1639), Phom Ahut; the 17th century Dutch astronomer Caesius has Fomahand and Fontabant; The Italian astronomer Riccioli's (1598–1671) names for it are Fomauth, Phomaut. Phomault, Phomant, Phomaant, Phomhaut, Phomelhaut; La Caille's, Phomalhaut; La Lande's are Fumalhant, Fomahaut, and Phoma-hant; and the 17th century German astronomer and ephemeris creator Schickard's, Fomalcuti. Costard gives it as Fomahout; and Sir William Herschel had it Fomalhout.

More correctly than all these, the 17th century English orientalist Thomas Hyde wrote it Pham Al Hut. Burritt's Geography of 1856 has the present form Fomalhaut, but his Planisphere, Fomalhani. It generally, but wrongly, is pronounced Fomalo, as though from the French.

The Harleian Manuscript of Cicero's  the Greek astronomer Aratus, circa 270 B.C., has the words Stella Canopus at the Fish's mouth, which is either an erroneous title, or another use of the word for any very bright star, as is noted under alpha (α) Argus,— Canopus.

Among early Arabs Fomalhaut was Al Difdi al Awwal, the First Frog (beta Cetus, Deneb Kaitos the Second Frog); and in its location on the Borgian globe is the word Thalim, the Ostrich, evidently another individual title.

Flammarion says that it was Hastorang in Persia 3000 B.C., when near the winter solstice, and a Royal Star, one of the four Guardians of Heaven, sentinels watching over other stars; while about 500 B.C. it was the object of sunrise worship in the temple of Demeter at Eleusis; and still later on, with astrologers, portended eminence, fortune, and power. The Chinese knew it as Pi Lo Sze Mun.

With Achernar and Canopus it made up Dante's Tre Facelle; and sixty years ago [perhaps 1829], Boguslawski thought that it might be the Central Sun of the Universe.

It lies in about 30° 15' of south declination, and so is the most southerly of all the prominent stars visible in the latitude of New York City, but it is in the zenith of Chile, the Cape of Good Hope, and South Australia. To the uninstructed observer it seems a full 1st-magnitude, perhaps from the absence of near-by stars. It culminates on the 25th of October. As one of the so-called lunar stars it is of importance in navigation, and appears in the Ephemerides of all modern sea-going nations.

[Star Names, Their Lore and Meaning, Richard Hinckley Allen, 1889].


It was Hastorang in Persia 2582 B.C., at the winter solstice, and a Royal Star, one of the "four Guardians of Heaven", sentinels watching over other stars; while about 500 B.C. it was the object of sunrise worship in the temple of Demeter at Eleusis.

This is one of the four key stars in the heavens, also called archangel stars.

Michael (Aldebaran) watcher of the East.

Gabriel (Fomalhaut) watcher of the South.

Raphael (The Healing Archangel (Regulus) Watcher of the North.

Oriel (Antares) Watcher of the West.

[The angel associations come from Eric Morse, The Living Stars, p.35. Allen's explanation of these four stars on p.256 of Star Names]

At one time they marked the two Equinoxes and two Solstices. Aldebaran marked zero Aries 3044 BC, Antares marked zero Libra 3052 BC, Fomalhaut marked zero Capricornus, 2582 BC, Regulus marked zero Cancer 2345 BC.

Eric Morse says: They have been characterized as Horses, reflected both in the famed Four Horsemen of Apocalypse (Revelations 6) and Chariot Horses in the Book of Zechariah. Regulus was long considered the supreme of the Four Guardians but the role of Fomalhaut - Gabriel, in the birth of Jesus - must now be said to challenge or actually supplant, with a new stage in human spiritual evolution, the supremacy of the more 'medical' Archangel of the Leonine era. [Dr Eric Morse, The Living Stars, p.56.]

The astrological influences of the constellation Piscis Austrinus

Legend: This constellation is said to commemorate the transformation of Venus into the shape of a fish on one occasion when bathing. [Robson*, p.57.]

Ptolemy gives no separate influence and describes Fomalhaut, but according to Bayer the constellation is of the nature of Saturn. It is said to have an influence similar to Pisces, but in addition to augment the fortunes. [Robson*, p.57.]

The astrological influences of the constellation Piscis Austrinus given by Manilius:

"Then rises the Southern Fish in the quarter of the wind after which it is named" [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, book 1, p.39].

"When the Southern Fish rises into the heavens, leaving its native waters for a foreign element, whoever at this hour takes hold of life will spend his years about sea-shore and river-bank he will capture fish as they swim poised in the hidden depths; he will cast his greedy eyes into the midst of the waters, craving to gather pellucid stones (pearls) and, immersed himself, will bring them forth together with the homes of protective shell wherein they lurk. No peril is left for man to brave, profit is sought by means of shipwreck, and the diver who has plunged into the depths becomes, like the booty, the object of recovery. And not always small is the gain to be derived from this dangerous labor (implying that a diver's life was usually an unenviable one) pearls are worth fortunes, and because of these splendid stones there is scarcely a rich man left. Dwellers on land are burdened with the treasures of the sea. A man born to such a lot plies his skill along the shore; or he purchases at a fixed wage another's labor and sells for a profit what it has brought him, a pedlar in the many different forms of sea products". [Manilius, Astronomica, 1st century AD, book 5, p.333.]

The astrological influences of the star Fomalhaut

Notes: A reddish star in the mouth of the Southern Fish. From Fum al Hut, "the Fish's Mouth." It was one of the four Royal Stars of Persia in 3000 B.C., when as the Watcher of the South it marked the winter solstice. [Robson*, p.165.]

According to Ptolemy, it is of the nature of Venus and Mercury; and, to Alvidas, of Jupiter in square to Saturn from Pisces and Sagittarius. It is said to be very fortunate and powerful and yet to cause malevolence of sublime scope and character, and change from a material to a spiritual form of expression. Cardan stated that together with the stars rising with 12 Gemini it gives an immortal name. [Robson*, p.165-166.]

It has a Mercury-Venus character with a blending of Neptune influence. According to tradition, this star is of quite variable effect, either very good or very bad, depending on the overall cosmic structure. It is assumed, however, that the helpful influence is the greater one and if in conjunction with Mercury, it is said to stimulate mental capabilities and promise success as a writer or scientist. On the Ascendant and in good aspect, tradition has it that this star will make for 'fame' and a name 'remembered forever'. In conjunction with Venus, there will be advantages in artistic pursuits. A conjunction with Jupiter or on the MC will bring favor from dignitaries of the church. Tied up with either Sun or Moon, the influence of Fomalhaut is said to be quite marked. [Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation, Elsbeth Ebertin, 1928, p.78.]

If rising or culminating: Great and lasting honors. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Sun: Dissipated, easily influenced by low companions, gain through inheritance but unproductive of good, may suffer for some crime committed, danger of bites from venomous creatures. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Moon: Secret business causing much trouble and enmity, but eventual gain after many difficulties. The separation is more benefic than the application. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Mercury: Many losses and disappointments, unlucky in business, better servant than master, writes or receives secret letters, worry through slander, imprisonment or damaged reputation, domestic difficulties, sickness of a Saturnian nature. [Robson*, p.166.]

Success as a scientist or writer. [Fixed Stars and Their Interpretation, Elsbeth Ebertin, 1928, p.78.]

With Venus: Secret and passionate love affairs, some restriction in the life, disappointments, easily led astray. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Mars: Malevolent, passionate, revengeful, many secret enemies, liable to disgrace and ruin, danger of bites from venomous creatures. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Jupiter: Sympathetic, charitable, honors in the Church, Freemasonry or secret societies, many voyages. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Saturn: Accidents, ailments affecting the lungs, throat and feet, loss through enemies, friends, Mercurial affairs, bands and companies, wrongfully accused, affairs involved at end of life, sudden death and family cheated out of their rights. [Robson*, p.166.]

With Uranus: Unstable, wasted talents, evil environment, unpractical ideas, loses friends, addicted to drugs or intoxicants, utopian schemes, afflicted marriage partner, brings misfortune to associates, fatally injured by electricity, explosion or accident. [Robson*, p.167.]

With Neptune: Sharp, shrewd, self-seeking, analytical, detective ability, many secret enemies, connected with secret affairs or government work, occult interests, somewhat dishonest, influential friends, associated with 9th and 12th house affairs, gain through speculation, death of marriage partner, many narrow escapes, violent death through secret enemies. [Robson*, p.167.]

References:

*[Fixed Stars and Constellations in Astrology, Vivian E. Robson, 1923].