When can you view? All year round in the northern skies. A beautiful maiden, Callisto, was hunting in the forest, but grew tired and laid down to rest. The god Jupiter noticed her and was smitten with her beauty, which made his wife, Juno, extremely jealous, so she turned Callisto into a bear. To protect both mother and son, Jupiter took both bears by their tails and swung them up into the heavens to live there forever — this explains the length of the tails, which are much longer than usual!
She insulted the Nereids sea nymphs by boasting she was more beautiful than they. To avenge the insulted Nereids, Poseidon, god of the sea, sent Cetus the whale monster. Cassiopeia chained her daughter Andromeda to a rock as a sacrifice for the monster. Fortunately the hero Perseus rescued her on his way home from slaying Medusa. The bright star at the bottom of the figure is known as Regulus. Mythology - Leo is known as a Lion across many cultures.
It is also a constellation in the zodiacal calendar as the Sun moves through the constellation in the summer months. The Greeks believed that Leo represented the lion that stalked and devoured the people of Nemea. Its skin was said to be impervious to all weapons and no ordinary man could kill it.
Hercules took on the task and was unable to pierce the skin of Leo but eventually used his great strength to choke the beast to death. It is best viewed from June to November. Cygnus is easy to find as its cruciform shape is also known as the Northern Cross and appears to be flying down the middle of the Milky Way.
Cygnus contains one of the brightest stars in the night sky — Deneb also the corner star of the Summer Triangle asterism. Mythology - Cygnus the Swan has been associated with several myths. Another myth is that Cygnus represents tragic Greek hero Orpheus, who was murdered for refusing to honour Dionysus. He was then transformed into a swan and placed in the sky.
Mythology - Pegasus was known as the winged horse in Greek mythology.
Other stories say Pegasus originates from Poseidon mixing the blood of Medusa in the sea to create a Pmagical pure white stallion in honour of his love. Mythology - In Greek mythology, Orion was a mighty giant and hunter who boasted that he could slay any creature on Earth. There are many legends of his special powers such as walking on water, and various stories of how he was killed.
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One story is that Diana, the archer-goddess with whom Orion was a favourite, was tricked into firing the arrow that killed Orion. The story goes like this… Apollo, her jealous brother, observed the giant Orion wading through the sea with his head just above water and challenged Diana to hit the black island in the distance.
In the night sky, it almost looks a stick figure, with Sirius at the head, and another bright star, Adhara, at its rear end. Cassiopeia, in Greek mythology, was a vain queen who often boasted about her beauty. She was the mother of Princess Andromeda, and in contrast to other figures being placed in the sky in honor, Cassiopeia was forced to the heavenly realms as punishment.
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This was quite an offense, and she was banned to the sky for all to gawk at. And because of that, the vain queen is one of the most oft-mentioned in pop culture and one of the earliest constellations that young children come to recognize in the sky. Lacerta the lizard and Vulpecula the fox are faint constellations near Cygnus the swan and Lyra. Multiple personas take on the form of the swan in Greek mythology.
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Another tale says that Orpheus was murdered and then placed into the sky as a swan next to his lyre the constellation Lyra, also in the drawing above. The constellation may also have gotten its name from the tale of Phaethon and Cycnus. The Northern Cross is really just an asterism recognizable pattern of stars within Cygnus the swan.
Motion of the Stars
In the night sky, the goose is looking down with its wings spread out parallel to the horizon. Gemini represents the twins Castor and Pollux. These stories tend to all tie together! When Castor was killed, the immortal Pollux begged Zeus to give Castor immortality, which he did by placing the brothers in the night sky for all time.
Castor and Pollux also happen to be the names of the brightest stars in the constellation, and represent the heads of the twins. The twins sit next to Orion, making them fairly easy to find in winter. Leo has been a great lion in the night sky across almost all mythological traditions. In Greek lore, Leo is the monstrous lion that was killed by Hercules as part of his twelve labors.
The lion could not be killed by mortal weapons, as its fur was impervious to attack, and its claws sharper than any human sword. Eventually Hercules tracked him down and strangled the great beast, albeit losing a finger in the process. Lyra is associated with the myth of Orpheus the great musician remember him from earlier? His music could soothe anger and bring joy to weary hearts. Wandering the land in depression after his wife died, he was killed and his lyre harp was thrown into a river. Zeus sent an eagle to retrieve the lyre, and it was then placed in the night sky.
Lyra sort of forms a lopsided square with a tail to its brightest star, Vega, which is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is small, and almost directly overhead in the summer months, but the bright Vega makes it fairly easy to find. Orion is one of the largest and most recognizable of the constellations. It is viewable around the world, and has been mentioned by Homer, Virgil, and even the Bible, making it perhaps the most famous constellation.
Orion was a massive, supernaturally gifted hunter who was the son of Poseidon. It was said he regularly hunted with Artemis Goddess of the Hunt on the island of Crete, and that he was killed either by her bow, or by the sting of the great scorpion who later became the constellation Scorpius.
The two other corners form a rough quadrangle, with his head and bow also sometimes visible. Orion is also unique in that you can use him to find a variety of other constellations in the winter sky. The two fish of the sky represent Aphrodite and her son Eros, who turned themselves into fish and tied themselves together with rope in order to escape Typhon, the largest and most vile monster in all of Greek mythology. Scorpius is sometimes also known as just Scorpio. There are a variety of myths associated with the scorpion, almost all of them involving Orion the hunter. Orion once boasted that he could kill all the animals on the earth.
With many bright stars, Scorpius is fairly easy to find in the night sky.
Antares, the brightest star in the constellation, is said to be the heart of the scorpion. That will be the easiest star to locate, but is sometimes confused with Mars because of its red-orange coloring. To the right of the heart are stars that form the head. To the left are a long line of stars that curve into a sideways or upside-down question mark.
Taurus is a large and prominent fixture in the winter sky. As one of the oldest recognized constellations, it has mythologies dating back to the early Bronze Age.
Constellation - Wikipedia
There are several Greek myths involving Taurus. Two of them include Zeus, who either disguised himself as a bull or disguised his mistress as a bull in multiple escapades of infidelity. Another myth has the bull being the 7th labor of Hercules after the beast wreaked havoc in the countryside. The Big Dipper is popularly thought of as a constellation itself, but is in fact an asterism within the constellation of Ursa Major. It has great significance in the mythologies of multiple cultures around the world.
Zeus was smitten for a young nymph named Callisto. While in animal form, Callisto encountered her son Arcas. The seven stars of the Big Dipper are easily recognized and almost always visible.