Our winter almanac 22.01.2010-28.01.2010

Star Charts

Looking near the Meridian at about 20h you can find the constellations Auriga, Perseus, Orion and Taurus. Most star charts of the night sky are designed as a circular map, and marked by latitude and longitude in degrees and minutes, just like the maps of the Earth’s surface.

This was the Constellation Logo for Beech Down School at Brighton Hill.

A new constellation – the kite
Sadly, Beech Down School is no more, having been closed after a catastrophic fire during November 2000. One of the Beech Down school pupils came up with a brilliant modern version for the Constellation Auriga – a beautiful kite!

Auriga is a constellation in the northern sky. Its name is Latin for ‘charioteer’ and its stars form a shape that has been associated with the pointed helmet of a charioteer. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and is included among the 88 modern constellations. Its brightest star is Capella.

According to one Greek myth, Auriga represents Hephaestus, the blacksmith god, who was lame and invented the chariot so as to easily travel wherever he wanted. In another Greek myth, Auriga is said to represent Myrtilus, the charioteer of King Oenomaus, and who sabotaged the king’s chariot.

Auriga is also identified as the mythological Greek hero Erichthonius of Athens, the chthonic (an “Earth deity”, or a spirit of the soil with all its power to create growth out of the ground) son of Hephaestus who was raised by the goddess Athena. According to the anonymous writer of the composition Catasterisimi, Erichthonius was generally credited to be the inventor of the quadriga, the four-horse chariot, which he used in the battle against the usurper Amphictyon that made Erichthonius the king of Athens. Erichthonius then dedicated himself to Athena and soon after, Zeus raised the Athenian hero into the night sky in honor of his ingeniuity and heroic deeds.

Ancient mythology and the night sky seem to go together like a horse and chariot!

Beech Down on a grey day! 28.01.2010


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