[Daily article] February 24: Pyxis

Pyxis is a small and faint constellation in the southern sky. The name
comes from Pyxis Nautica, Latin for a mariner’s compass (as opposed to a
draftsman’s compass, represented by the constellation Circinus).
Introduced by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century, Pyxis is
counted among the 88 modern constellations. In the 19th century,
astronomer John Herschel suggested renaming Pyxis to Malus, the mast,
since it appears near the old constellation of the ship Argo Navis, but
the suggestion was not followed. Pyxis is completely visible from
latitudes south of 53 degrees north, with its best evening-sky
visibility in February and March. The plane of the Milky Way passes
through it. Its three brightest stars—Alpha, Beta and Gamma
Pyxidis—are in a rough line; the brightest of these is Alpha
(magnitude 3.68), a blue-white star around 22,000 times as luminous as
the Sun. Near Alpha is T Pyxidis, a recurrent nova that has flared up to
magnitude 7 every few decades. Three star systems have planets, all
discovered by Doppler spectroscopy.

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Today’s selected anniversaries:

303:

Roman emperor Diocletian’s first “Edict against the Christians”
was published, beginning the Diocletianic Persecution, the last and most
severe episode of the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.

1809:

After standing only 15 years, London’s Drury Lane theatre, the
third building of that name, burned down (pictured).

1826:

The Treaty of Yandabo was signed, ending the First Anglo-
Burmese War, the longest and most expensive war in the history of
British India.

1868:

Andrew Johnson became the first U.S. President to be impeached.

1943:

World War II: The Battle of Kasserine Pass, the first major
engagement between American and Axis forces in Africa, ended with the
Allied forces suffering heavy losses.

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Wiktionary’s word of the day:

stochastically:
In a stochastic manner; by means of a process involving a randomly
determined sequence of events.

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Wikiquote quote of the day:

  Man is innately a creature of love … love is the most powerful
force in the universe, and eventually — it’s a very slow process —
it will conquer.  
–Dennis Weaver

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