The Returning Ostriches (an-na’am as-sadir)
The Returning 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 (an-na’am al-warid) and four Returning Ostriches. The Returning Ostriches were so named because they have already drunk from the river (the Milky Way, where the Drinking Ostriches are) and are now walking away from it to return home to their Nest with its eggs.
One of two groups of four bright stars, each arranged as a quadrilateral, with a ninth star connecting the two groups. The Returning Ostriches are the second of the two groups to set.
φ SGR, blue star, magnitude 3.2
ζ SGR (Ascella), blue-white star, magnitude 3.3
τ SGR, yellow star, magnitude 3.3
σ SGR (Nunki), blue-white star, magnitude 2.0
The four stars of the Returning Ostriches take about 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 Returning Ostriches setting in mid-July and rising in late January, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. (See How to Observe on the About page for more on this topic.)
The Returning 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 Returning Ostriches match the Hindu nakshatra called Uttara Ashadha.
Related Stars and Celestial Complexes
The Returning Ostriches are part of the Ostriches (an-na’a’im, النعائم) folkloric celestial complex.
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