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Fornax (furnace)

Location: Southern Hemisphere
Coordinates:
Right Ascension: 03h
Declination: -30º
Source: Astronomer Abbe Nicholas Louis de Lacaille
Fornax Constellation

The story behind the name: The constellation Fornax, originally Fornax Chemica (chemical furnace), was named in honor of Antoine Lavoisier, an 18th century French scientist and government official who was a major figure in the development of modern chemistry. Lavoisier developed an accurate theory of combustion (how things burn), and a theory to explain chemical reactions, so the the name of this constellation in his honor is very appropriate. He also worked on a modern system for naming chemical terms, and wrote an important paper explaining the nature of elements.

In the 18th century, advances in chemistry had many practical applications. One of Lavoisier's assignments for the French government was to improve the quality of their gunpowder. He trained a young Frenchman named Irenee du Pont who emigrated to the United States and founded the du Pont company. The company's first job was to make high quality gun powder for the new US government. Lavoisier was from an affluent background and was a relatively liberal thinker who sympathized with the need to reform the government. He was also an investor in a company that collected taxes and fees for the government. Members of this company were particularly targeted by radicals during the Reign of Terror in the later part of the French Revolution and Lavoisier was guillotined.

Introduction to Constellations | Constellation Sources | Constellations Index


Objects observed by Chandra in Fornax: