Joseph Needham, in his Science and Civilisation in China Vol. III, claimed that there was an ancient record of a nova about three thousand years ago. As a result of private correspondences with a "Dr A. Beer" (maybe Arthur Beer?), Needham stated in his book that

This supernova position ["position" being "next to Antares"] agrees closely with the radio-star 2C. 1406.

Assuming that "2C. 1406" refers to an item in the Second Cambridge Catalogue of Radio Sources, the data given for this item (original document here) is

enter image description here

Acknowledging that the Second Catalogue has various problems, my questions are:

  1. Is "2C. 1406" (still) considered to be "IC 4606" (which, I suppose, refers to this nebula from the SIMBAD Astronomical Database)?

  2. If so, was "IC 4606" ever visible to the human eye?

  3. If not, what do the coordinates given for "2C. 1406" currently refer to (if anything), and was this ever visible to the naked eye? Or is this not really a radio source, but an error that was fixed by later Catalogues?

Note, the interpretation of the supposed nova record is extremely controversial, so I wouldn't be surprised if the text didn't refer to any kind of astronomical observation at all.


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