Thursday, September 10, 2009

Heart of Scorpio

Scorpio is hanging low in the Southern sky this time of year, and comes up pretty early. It's a favorite of mine because it's one of the few that actually looks like what it's supposed to be: a scorpion. Go out and look tonight. It's pretty east to spot. There's a picture of it below.

The particularly cool bit about Scorpio is that bright star in the center. Antares. I think of it as Scorpio's heart for two reasons. One, it's bright red, a red super-giant star. Two, it actually beats, albeit much slower than a human heart, because it is a variable star, pulsing brighter and dimmer every 4.75 years.

Antares means "rival of Mars", because of it's red color. The Arabian name is much cooler: Kelbalacrab. It means "the scorpion's heart."

One more bit of Scorpio lore. The reason Scorpio and Orion are on opposite ends of the sky is because Gaia, the Earth Goddess, sent Scorpius to sting Orion, because he bragged about sleeping with her. Orion runs into the sea to escape, and dies there, but Apollo feels bad about the whole deal and hangs him back up in the sky, where he is put on the the opposite side as Scorpio, to keep them apart. So, as the sky revolves, he is forever running away from the deadly scorpion.


Hilary said...

Interesting lore. My sky is too city-lit to see much but I sure enjoy a full sky up at the cottage.

Clowncar said...

This is my favorite sky of the year, Hilary. And the one I'm most familiar with - primarily because this is the time of year we almost always go camping.