10 October 2011
Did you know... that Table Mountain is the only terrestial feature on Earth to give its name to a star constellation
Cape Town's Table Mountain is the only terrestial feature on Earth to give its name to a star constellation. The French astronomer Nicolas de Lacaille (1713-1763) named the constellation "mensa" (Latin for table) after the mountain, which he visited in the mid eighteenth century (1754). The mensa constellation can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere and is essentially unobservable from the Northern Hemisphere. "Mensa", which was orignally named Mons Mensae by the french astronomer and only got shortened to "Mensa" by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) when it adopted the 88 modern constellations recognised today, is located below Orion at about 6 hours right ascension and 80° south in declination (south polar region). The constellation contains some of the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite of the Milky Way Galaxy and one of the nearest galaxies to Earth, at a distance of 160,000 light-years.