The black, bottomless night sky, dotted with myriads of stars, hypnotizes, makes you remember the infinity of the Universe. Who, looking in childhood at the stars of the Milky Way scattered across the sky, did not ask questions like:
- What are these stars?
- Why are they so located and why do the stars twinkle?
- Where did the names of stars and constellations come from?
The beautiful names of constellations and stars have their origins in the mythology of ancient peoples. Therefore, many famous constellations were given the names of mythical characters.
Constellations with the names of the signs of the zodiac
Studying the photos and their names of the constellations in the sky, you can start with the constellation Taurus, which in ancient times was associated with the spring revival of nature and the beginning of the year. In those days, cattle breeding was the most important activity of people, so they took the calf (bull) to the constellation, the appearance of which in the spring sky meant the arrival of heat.
Parents, showing in childhood to their children the constellations for children in pictures, pointing to the constellation Aries (ram), at the same time told a wonderful myth about the Golden Fleece and the travels of the Argonauts.
It is named after the Argonauts of the Dioscuri – Pollux and Castor, whom Leda gave birth to from Zeus himself. The heads of the twins are the two brightest stars in this constellation. This couple was considered among the ancient Greeks as the patroness of sailors caught in a storm.
Constellations of Scorpio and Orion
Neptune had a son, the giant Orion, an excellent hunter. But he boasted too much about his victories over animals, for which Hera sent a scorpion against him. Zeus placed Orion in the sky so that the scorpion could not overtake him. Therefore, it is impossible to see these two constellations at the same time in the sky – this is easy to check by looking at the pictures of the constellation.
This is a very inconspicuous constellation. But once upon a time, people used it to determine the longest day of the year – the summer solstice. On this day, the luminary rises as far as possible to the north, after which it begins to recede, and the daylight hours begin to decrease.
Also associated with the summer solstice. Long before the constellation of Cancer was chosen as a landmark, people determined a significant day precisely by this constellation, because the lion is a symbol of fire.
It is adjacent to the Lion, and the ancients saw in their neighborhood the figure of the mythical Sphinx.
Most likely, this symbol of balance was the mark of the autumnal equinox.
The sun sets here in winter, so in the constellation they saw the change of one year to another. The shooter has two faces:
- one is turned to the future;
- the other is turned to the past.
It is in the direction of Sagittarius that the center of our Milky Way galaxy is located.
This mythical creature has a goat body and head, and a fish tail. The god Pan, the patron of shepherds, forests and fields, frightened by the hundred-headed Typhon, rushed into the water in a panic, after which he grew a fish tail. Zeus, taking pity, turned the poor fellow into the constellation Capricorn, portending storms and heavy rainfall.
In Egypt, it rose with the rise of the Nile. The Egyptians believed that Khnum, the god of water, was pouring water from a huge ladle into the river.
Here you can see the contours of a pair of fish tied with a ribbon. The Phoenicians depicted the goddess of fertility with a fish tail. The Phoenicians traded in fishing, which was most successful when the Sun passed through this constellation.
Constellation stories intertwined with myths
Constellation ship Argo
There was once such a constellation, but later it was divided into separate constellations:
- then Compass was added.
Constellations Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Bootes
Having studied the pictures of the constellation Ursa Major, you can recall different versions of the origin of the names of both Ursa, for example, this one:
Lycaon, king of Arcadia, had an amazingly beautiful daughter, Callisto. So beautiful that Zeus himself was tempted by her, who appeared before her in the form of the handsome Apollo. But his wife Hera, learning about this, became angry and turned the beauty into a terrible bear. Somehow, the son of this sin – Arkad, returning from hunting, saw a wild bear near the house and wanted to kill her, but Zeus prevented the murder of his mother, taking her to heaven, where she turned into the Big Dipper. And Ursa Minor, the Thunderer made his beloved dog Callisto’s beloved.
So that Arkad would always take care of his mother, the supreme god would shelter him in the sky, where he became the constellation Bootes. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the name of the constellations and stars in the spring sky, because the main star of Bootes Arcturus is translated as "guardian of the bear."
According to ancient Greek mythology, Ethiopia was once ruled by the ruler Cepheus and his wife Cassiopeia, who had a beautiful daughter, Andromeda. One day, the queen inadvertently boasted to the sea goddesses – Nereids of the beauty of herself and her daughter. Those, being themselves beauties, were indignant and began to demand from Father Poseidon to punish Cassiopeia. He sent a monstrous whale to the country, which began to devastate it. The royal couple chose their daughter as an atoning sacrifice. She was chained to the coastal rocks, where the denouement was to come. Fortunately, at that moment Perseus was rushing over Ethiopia on a winged Pegasus with the just severed head of the Gorgon Medusa. Seeing that the ugly monster was about to devour the beauty, Perseus took out the head of the Gorgon and showed it to the monster, who instantly petrified from this. So Perseus saved Andromeda and, Of course, as a token of gratitude, he received her as his wife. As a result of this story, the following constellation names appeared in the sky:
Later constellation names
Exploring what constellations are, their pictures and names, you can see that the constellations that appeared already in modern times changed the subject of names: Compasses, Telescope, Pump, Compass, Lizard, Altar, Fly, Unicorn, Giraffe.
Others are associated with the era of geographical discoveries: Triangle, Southern Cross, Indian, Dolphin, Flying Fish, Peacock.