The Sneeze (an-nathra)
The Mucus of the Lion (makhtat al-asad)
The Sneeze is part of the Arabian megaconstellation of the Lion (al-asad). The Tip of the Nose (another translation for an-nathra) is a pair of dim stars that appear to have sneezed out a star cluster, which on account of its dimness appears as a fuzzy blotch in the sky. More explicitly, some Arabs saw the two stars of the Tip of the Nose as the Two Nostrils (al-mankhiran) and the star cluster alone as the Sneeze (an-nathra).
A faint star cluster that appears as a patch of cloud in the night sky, close to a pair of unremarkable stars. The Sneeze does not include the pair of stars.
M44 (Praesepe), star cluster, magnitude 3.1
Ibn Qutayba (d. 879 CE) reported that the Tip of the Nose was said to rise on the morning of July 18 and set on the morning of January 18. On account of the precession of the equinoxes, today we can expect to observe the Sneeze setting in early February and rising in mid-August, as seen from the latitude of Tucson. (See How to Observe on the About page for more on this topic.)
The Sneeze does not figure among the rain stars, but in the calendars of Qushayr and Qays, the morning setting of the Tip of the Nose occurs during the cold winter season called ash-shita’.
The Sneeze is not one of the lunar stations, but in early listings of the lunar stations, the Tip of the Nose is the tenth station of the year. This was later changed to the eighth lunar station after the stations were adjusted to begin with the vernal equinox. The stars of the Tip of the Nose roughly match the Hindu nakshatra called Pushya.
Related Stars and Celestial Complexes
The Sneeze is part of the Lion (al-asad, الأسد) folkloric celestial complex, which extends from the Two Forearms (adh-dhira’an, الذراعان) to the Two Shanks (as-saqan, الساقان).
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