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Nature volume 13, page 467 | Download Citation



OLBERS' SUPPOSED VARIABLE STAR NEAR 53 VIRGINIS.—The only comet detected in the year 1796 was found by Olbers in Virgo on the night of March 31. On the following evening, at 8h. 55m., apparent time at Bremen, it was over a star of the seventh magnitude south—following 53 Virginis, and the light of the star was remarked to be little affected by the intervention of the comet. On March 1, 1797, desiring to fix more exactly the place of this star, Olbers found in jts position one of only the tenth or eleventh magnitude, whereas in April previous, according to Schroeter, who appears to have compared the comet with it early on the morning of April 2, it was the brightest star in the immediate neighbourhood of 53 Virginis, and hence in Olbers' judgment “a seventh magnitude at least.” Writing to Bode in March 1797 he directs attention to this star, as perhaps a more remarkable variable star than even X Cygni. The circumstances preclude suspicion of a similar phenomenon to that described by Piazzi when the great comet of 1811 passed over his star XX. 197.

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