The Drinking Ostriches (an-na’am al-warid)
The Drinking Ostriches are part of the Ostriches (an-na’a’im) celestial complex, which also includes the Nest (al-udhi) of the ostriches and the Wasteland (al-balda). Unlike the Lion or the Scorpion, each star of the Ostriches represents an individual ostrich. The Ostriches are divided into two groups, four Drinking Ostriches and four Returning Ostriches (an-na’am as-sadir). The Drinking Ostriches were so named because their stars are located in the swath of the Milky Way, the river from which the Ostriches are drinking.
One of two groups of four bright stars, each arranged as a quadrilateral, with a ninth star connecting the two groups. The Drinking Ostriches are the first of the two groups to set.
γ SGR (Al Nasl), yellow giant star, magnitude 3.0
η SGR, orange star, magnitude 3.1
ε SGR (Kaus Australis), blue-white star, magnitude 1.9
δ SGR (Kaus Meridionalis), orange giant star, magnitude 2.7
The four stars of the Drinking Ostriches take just over a week to rise and set. Ibn Qutayba (d. 879 CE) reported that the Ostriches were said to rise on the morning of December 23 and set on the morning of June 23. On account of the precession of the equinoxes, today we can expect to observe the Drinking Ostriches setting in late June and rising in mid-January, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. (See How to Observe on the About page for more on this topic.)
The Drinking Ostriches do not figure in the calendar of the rains stars.
In early listings of the lunar stations, the Ostriches as a whole are the 22nd station of the year. This was later changed to the 20th lunar station after the stations were adjusted to begin with the vernal equinox. Two of the stars of the Drinking Ostriches match the Hindu nakshatra called Purva Ashadha.
Related Stars and Celestial Complexes
The Drinking Ostriches are part of the Ostriches (an-na’a’im, النعائم) folkloric celestial complex.
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