The tales and mythology behind popular constellations
The Tales and Mythology Behind Popular Constellations
Humanity has been staring up at the night sky for thousands of years, searching for meaning and guidance in the stars. The stars above have even been organized into patterns called constellations, which have been used for navigation and storytelling as early as ancient Egypt. Many of these constellations are steeped in mythology that has been passed down through generations. Here are a few popular constellations and their associated tales.The Big Dipper
The Big Dipper is one of the most recognizable constellations in the sky, composed of seven bright stars that form the shape of a dipper or ladle. In Greek mythology, the constellation is known as the story of Zeus and Callisto. Zeus, the king of the gods, fell in love with Callisto and changed her into a bear to keep her from leaving him. Hera, Zeus' jealous wife, discovered this and asked Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, to kill Callisto. As Callisto's lifeless body was lifted into the sky, Zeus placed her in the stars as a constellation - Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The stars that form the dipper are thought to represent her back and tail.The Scorpio
Scorpio is another zodiac constellation, and one of the most fascinating to ancient skywatchers. In both Greek and Babylonian mythology, Scorpio was associated with the story of Orion. In the Greek myth, Orion was a skilled hunter, who was stung to death by a giant scorpion sent by Gaia, the goddess who presides over Earth. Orion and Scorpio were then placed in the sky by the gods, but were intentionally placed on opposite sides of the sky so they would never threaten each other again.The Orion
In Greek mythology, in honor of the brilliant hunter Orion, the goddess Artemis placed his likeness in the stars for all to see. Orion is depicted as a hunter either with a bow, a club, or a shield or sword. He is sometimes depicted with a lion-skin, a depiction that identifies him, as it does with Heracles the constellation to Orion's west, as a hero or a demigod. Though most prominent on winter evenings in the Northern Hemisphere, Orion can be seen through much of the world in the evening sky from November to February.The Taurus
The constellation Taurus resembles a bull, and is associated with the Greek myth of Europa. Zeus, the king of the gods, fell in love with Europa, a beautiful mortal woman. He changed himself into a bull and mingled with the herds belonging to Europa's father. Europa was so taken by the beautiful bull that she climbed on its back. The bull then ran into the sea and swam to the island of Crete. There, Zeus revealed his true form to Europa and she became the queen of the gods on Mount Olympus. The bull was placed in the sky as the constellation Taurus.
In conclusion, the constellations in the sky have long served to inspire and entertain humanity with their stories and beauty. The tales and mythologies behind popular constellations such as The Big Dipper, Scorpio, Orion, and Taurus not only serve as captivating stories, but also act as a connection between the cultures of our past and present.