The Great Fish (al-hut)
The Belly of the Fish (batn al-hut)
The Heart of the Fish (qalb al-hut)
The Great Fish is one of two fish in the Arabian stellar sea. The brightest star within this asterism was called the Belly of the Fish on account of its location. It was also called the Heart of the Fish on account of its red color.
The Great Fish as al-hut is identical in appearance to as-samaka al-‘azima. Only the names and their uses differ. Grammatically, samaka is any fish, and the adjective ‘azima means great or large. In contrast to this, the word hut in itself indicates a large fish.
A bright orange star located to the east of the four bright stars that form the shape of a large, near-perfect square, known in modern times as the Great Square of Pegasus. This star itself is the Belly of the Fish, and the faint stars that circle through it form the rest of the Great Fish. It shape is formed by two chains of stars that emanate from its mouth (the Andromeda Galaxy) and extend to its tail in modern-day Pisces. The stars listed below have been identified by as-Sufi (d. 986 CE) as making up the outline of the Great Fish, but other stars along these chains were no doubt part of the picture.
β AND (Mirach), red giant, magnitude 2.5
M31 (Andromeda Galaxy), spiral galaxy, magnitude 3.5
ν AND, blue-white star, magnitude 4.5
μ AND, white star, magnitude 3.9
υ PSC, white star, magnitude 4.7
φ PSC, orange giant, magnitude 4.7
χ PSC, orange giant, magnitude 4.7
ψ1 PSC, blue-white double star, magnitudes 5.6 and 5.8
η AND, yellow giant, magnitude 4.4
ζ AND, variable orange giant, magnitude 3.9-4.1
ε AND, yellow giant, magnitude 4.3
δ AND, orange giant, magnitude 3.3
π AND, blue-white double star, magnitudes 4.4 and 8.6
Ibn Qutayba (d. 879 CE) reported that the Great Fish was said to rise on the morning of April 4 and set on the morning of October 5. On account of the precession of the equinoxes, today we can expect to observe the Great Fish setting in mid-November and rising at the end of March, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. (See How to Observe on the About page for more on this topic.)
The Great Fish does not figure among the rain stars.
In early listings of the lunar stations, the Great Fish is the second station of the year. This was later changed to the 28th lunar station after the stations were adjusted to begin with the vernal equinox. Although the Great Fish is counted among the Arab lunar stations, the moon never actually rests near the Belly of the Fish because it is located so far away from the path of the moon through the sky.
Related Stars and Celestial Complexes
The Great Fish is part of the Two Fish (as-samakatan, السمكتان) folkloric celestial complex. The other fish of the pair is the Smaller Fish (as-samaka as-sughra, السمكة الصغرى).