A lot of people prefer to be indoors during the cold winter nights. In most cases, you will find people turning on the heater and wrapping themselves in a blanket. Well, star gazers in the northern hemisphere tend to defy this trend as this is the period in which some of the most beautiful constellations are visible. Other than being appealing to the eyes, these winter constellations usually drag along interesting stories with them. Here are three mythologies behind four constellations that will make you join the rest of the star gazers next winter.
While you can see this constellation from the late autumn months to the spring months, those in the southern hemisphere will see it during the summer months. It is usually upside down in the southern hemisphere. Its brightest star is Altaf. Other than the fact that the tropic of cancer got its name from this constellation, the Greek mythology behind it will amaze you. It got its story from Hercules, the son of Zeus. When he found out that his step-mom, Hera, was trying to kill him, he got furious and killed six of her sons. Once he recovered from his fury, he felt sorry and asked Hera to punish him for this act. She sent him to King Eurystheus, who was to give him some tasks to do. One of his tasks was to kill the Hydra, a serpent which had multiple heads. Despite the snake trying to distract him with some Scorpions, he was able to kill it. As a sign of honour, Hera sent the scorpions to the stars.
In the northern hemisphere, you can see it between January and June. In the southern hemisphere, you ought to look for it in the summer months. Its brightest star is Regulus. Similar to the cancer constellation, it derives its story to that of Hercules and Hera. As part of his first task, King Eurystheus sent Hercules to the city of Nemea where he was to kill a lion that had been tormenting the people of this city. To his surprise, the lion had a golden fur that deflected any arrow that he shot during the first attempt to kill it. In the second attempt, Hercules covered the entrances of the lion’s lair and beat it to death with a club. The lion was later placed in the sky as the Leo constellation.
While having the most intriguing story ever, you can find this winter constellation between winter and spring in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, look for it during the summer months where it will be upside down. Its brightest stars are Pollux and Castor, which are named after the twins of the queen of Sparta. Apparently, the two twins were from different fathers with Castor being the immortal son of the king of Sparta. Pollux, on the other hand, was the son of Zeus. Despite their differences, the two twins grew fond of each other with people referring to the Dioscuri. However, they had a feud with some other twins in a different land which resulted in the death of Castor. To reunite the two twins, Zeus sent his son, Pollux, to the skies to live with his twin brother.
Orion (the Hunter)
While you can see this constellation from spring to winter in the northern hemisphere, those in the southern hemisphere will see it during the summer months in an upside down position. Its brightest star is Rigel. The Greek named this constellation after a giant hunter whom Zeus sent to the stars upon death. Orion, the son of Poseidon, could walk on water. At a particular time, he walked on water to the Island of Chios and killed the daughter of the ruler of the island in a drunken stupor. In retaliation, the ruler blinded him. However, Helios healed him later. After this, he boasted that he would kill the entire creature on the earth to showcase his hunting skills. The earth’s goddess, Gaia, sent a scorpion to attack him to prevent him from killing the earth’s creatures. In the battle, the Scorpion ended up killing Orion. The ancient Greek refers to this constellation as Orion who is defending himself against the Taurus the bull constellation which is nearby.
With great appeals and breathtaking stories, these winter constellations have given star gazer in the northern hemisphere something to smile about during winter. You too can give yourself a reason to smile during next winter by looking at them.