Leo Major

Leo Major
the Greater Lion
You Are Here

" The figure of Leo, very much as we now have it, appears in all the Indian and Egyptian zodiacs, and of all the zodiac constellations it is probably most famous. As many authorities claim, its prominence is beyond question due to the fact that the place of the sun at the summer solstice was in this constellation at the time that the star groups were designed. There was thus a visible connection between the constellation Leo and the return of the sun to place of power and glory at the apex of the heavenly arch.

The connection between the sun, king of the heavenly hosts, and the lion, king of beasts, is obvious. Macrobius says:"This beast seems to derive his own nature from the luminary [the sun], being in force and heat as superior to all other animals, as the sun is to the stars." The Lion is always seen with his eyes wide open, and full of fire.   

According to Greek fable, this Lion represents the formidable animal which infested the forest of Nemaea. It was slain by Hercules, his first labour, and placed by Jupiter among the stars in commemoration of the dreadful conflict. 

Hercules (see blog entry December 10, 2015) is generally represented as wearing the lion's skin, and he is said to have reclined as he awatied his doom on the funeral pyre. Some aver that Hercules strangled the lion with his hands, but according to another legend he seized the lion by its jaws, and drove his heavy club down the creature's throat.

Maunder points out a curious relationship between four of the zodiacal constellations, one of which is Leo. He says: "The four most important signs of the zodiac are those in which the sun is located on the longest and shortest days, and on the two days when the days and nights are of equal length. These four signs in the days of Noah were the Bull, the Lion, the Scorpion and the Water-Pourer."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott 

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(like below)

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the Strongman
You Are Here

"The origin of this constellation is shrouded in mystery. It was not known to the Greek astronomers by the name "Hercules" but as "Engonasi" or "Engonasin" meaning the "KneelingOne".

The Twelve labors of Hercules are supposed to have an astronomical significance, and refer to the sun's passage through the zodiacal sign. "Beginning with the summer solstice a series of coincidences will be noted which makes impressive this ancient belief. For example the first sign through which the sun passes is Leo, and Hercules' first labour was the slaying of the Nemean lion.

There is certainly a significance in the location of this figure of a giant trampling on a serpent, for he is placed head to head with the giant Ophiuchus, (not pictured) who is represented as holding a writhing serpent in his grasp. Hercules has been thought to represent the first Adam, beguiled by the serpent, and condemned to a life of toil, while Ophiuchus is supposed to be the second Adam, triumphant over the serpent.

Even in his infancy, Hercules displayed great courage and strength, for it is related that he rose in his cradle and strangled the serpents sent by Juno to distroy him.

Bayer represents Hercules as holding in addition to his club an apple branch, possibly to indicate his connection with the myth of the Golden Apples of the Garden of Hesperides. For his eleventh labor he was ordered to procure them."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott

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Bootes and Canes Venatici

Bootes the Herdsman 
and Canes Venatici 
the Hunting Dogs

By night

"Bootes is represented by the figure of a mighty man with an uplifted hand, holding in leash two hunting dogs (Canes Venatici). He seems to be pursuing the Great Bear around the Pole, and hence Bootes is often referred to as "the Bear Driver". Bootes is also represented as a Herdsman and a Ploughman, guiding the Wain, as the Constellation Ursa Major is sometimes called. Cicero takes this view and adds that Bootes was sometimes called "Arctophylax" from two Greek words signifying "bear keeper" or "bear drive."
By Day
The mythology of the constellation is interesting. According to some of the Greeks it represented Icarus the father of Origone, others claim it represented Erichthonius, the inventor of the chariot. It was also said to be Arcas, the son of Zeus and the nymph Callisto (aka Ursa Major the Greater Bear). The name Bootes, according to some authorities, is derived from the Greek (Ox + to drive) Others claim that it was derived from the Greek word for clamorous, descriptive of the shouts of the driver, or call of encouragement to the hounds.

At Dusk
This star group (Canes Venatici) is a modern one, having been formed by Hevelius in 1690, These stars are supposed to represent two hunting dogs or hounds, which, held in leash by the Bear Driver, pursue the Great Bear as it circles the Pole. The northern dog is named "Asteron", the Southern Chara. In the neck of the latter is situated the lucida of the asterism, a third magnitude star which bears the name of "Cor Caroli" or "Charles Heart"

Asteron and Chara

Winding around the pole

Bootes also appears as a spear or lance bearer, the shepherd's staff which he was represented as bearing having been changed into a more formidable weapon.

Pursuing the Bear

Bootes has also been called "Atlas" from its nearness to the Pole, and because it appeared to hold up the heavens."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott

Holding up the world

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Ursa Minor

Ursa Minor
the Lesser Bear
Ursa Minor, Draco and Ursa Major
"According to mythology, the Bears were transferred to heaven as a reward for hiding Zeus in Crete from his cannibal father Kronos. Ursa Minor was also identified with Arcas the son of Callisto, transported to the skies as he was about to slay his mother in the guise of a bear. The two Bears were also fabled to have nursed Zeus on Mt. Ida. Zeus, as a reward for their faithful service, changed them into nymphs and placed them among the stars.

Ursa Minor (aka The Little Dipper)
Ursa Minor's chief claim to recognition lies in the universal observation of its lucida, the standard second magnitude star Alpha, known as the "Pole Star" or "Polaris" and to the Greeks "Phoenice" 

Up shot

Ursa Minor and Draco
The mariners of the ancient and modern worlds have placed an equal faith in the guiding beams of the steadfast star. The antiquity of knowledge of this star is attested by the fact that on the Assyrian tablets we find the Pole Star mentioned. The fact that it appears fixed was perhaps the first discovery made in the stellar universe."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott

Clockwise: Draco the Dragon, Ursa Minor, Auriga, Lynx, Ursa Major, Canes Venatici, Bootes and Hercules

to see images of the making of Ursa Minor
including this one of the little cutie 
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Auriga the Charioteer
with Capella the Goat
You Are Here

Auriga by day
"Allen says; "The results of modern research give us reason to think that this constellation originated on the Euphrates, in much the same form as we have it to-day. 

by night

Seen rising in the north-east, it needs but little imagination to trace the stars of Auriga a resemblance to an ancient roman chariot, so that the title "Chariot" seems more appropriate that "charioteer"

Auriga has also been identified with Erichthonius, the son of Vulcan and Minera, who being deformed and unable to walk invented the chariot. an achievement that secured him a place in the sky.

Ursa Major, Lynx and Auriga with Capella
Capella means "the little she-goat" the goat which suckled the infant jupiter. The story runs that having in his play broken off one of the goat's horns, Jupiter endowed the horn with the power of being filled with whatever the possessor might wish, whence it was called "the Cornucopia" or "horn of plenty." This title is also applied to the horn of Capricornus the Sea Goat."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott

(Clockwise) Ursa Minor, Auriga with Capella, Lynx, Ursa Major and Draco
(Left to Right) Leo, Hercules, Bootes, Canes Venatici, Draco, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Lynx and Auriga

Follow this link to see images of You Are Here in progress


Ursa Major

Ursa Major
the Great Bear
from You Are Here
at Miami International Airport

Ursa Major by Day

"Ursa Major, or the Great Bear, is the most easily recognized and most widely known of all the constellations (with seven stars making up the cup and handle of the Big Dipper). In all the records of an astronomical character that have come down to us we find allusions to this famous group of northern stars. It is unquestionably the most ancient of all the constellations, and universally known as 'the Bear".
Ursa Major by Night

Legend relates that Callisto, a nymph, the beautiful daughter of Lycaon, King of Arcadia, incurred the jealous wrath of Juno. jupiter, fearing Callisto would suffer injury at Juno's hands, transformed her into a bear. Juno on perceiving this induced Diana to kill the bear in the chase, but Jupiter placed his favourite out of harms way in the starry skies. Callisto's son Arcas afterwards became the constellation Ursa Minor.
Ursa Major and Lynx by Day
Ursa Major and Lynx in the Evening

The Arabs also had a consistent figure in the Bier with three mourners following. The title "the Bier" is so similar to the most universal appellation "the Bear" that we might almost suppose that the latter title was a confused rendering of the former.

(Clockwise) Draco, Ursa Minor, Auriga, Lynx, Ursa Major, Canes Venatici, Bootes, Corona Borealis

In some time antedating history, nomads of the east familiar with the constellation of "the Bier" may have reached North America and there conveyed their conception of this star group to the Indians, who translated the idea into terms familiar to their lives (the Bear)
Up shot
The ancients associated the idea of dancing with Ursa Major and the other circumpolar constellations and they not infrequently mention "the dances of the stars" The two bears were imagined reeling around the pole like a pair of waltzers."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott
Up shot 2

Follow the link below to see images of Ursa Major in progress

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Leo Minor

Leo Minor 
the lesser lion
from You Are Here
Miami International Airport

"Hevelius introduced this star group in 1690, forming it from eighteen stars situated between The greater Lion and Bear as it 'partook of the same nature'. The Chinese included the Greater and Lesser Lion in their great figure of the Dragon.

(Right to Left) Leo Minor, Leo Major, Coma Berenices, Virgo, Libra
Leo Minor, the lesser lion
We find many figures duplicated, and in most cases the two figures are close together in the sky. Thus we see the figures of Two Dogs (Canes Venatici), two Bears (Ursa Major and Minor), two Giants subduing Serpents (Hercules and Draco, Ophiuchus and Serpens), each in close proximity. Then there are two goats (Aires and Capricornus), two crowns (Corona Australis and Borealis), two streams and two fish bound together."

from Star Lore by WIlliam Tyler Olcott

Leo Minor with Leo Major

Leo Minor, Leo Major, Coma Berenices, Virgo and Libra

Follow this link to see the making of Leo Minor

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and some of the crazy looks Leo jr has gone thru like these...

Virgo the Virgin from You Are Here

Virgo the Virgin 
"Virgo is the sign the sun enters in August and was depicted in the zodiac holding in her hands the emblems of the harvest. 

By an astronomical allegory, the Virgin of August became a goddess who descended to the earth, presided over the harvest, taught mankind agriculture, and was worshipped under various names.

According to the poets, the Virgin is Astrea, the daughter of Astraeus and Aurora, and the goddess of justice. Near her appear the Scales (Libra) in which, it is said, she weighed the good and evil deeds of men. In the golden age she resided on earth, but becoming offended at the wickedness of mankind she returned to heaven.

In her left hand she bears a head of wheat, or ear of corn, which is marked by the brilliant first magnitude star Spica.

In classic times she was associated with Ceres, or her daughter Proserpine. Proserpine, so the legend relates, was wandering in the fields in the springtime, and was carried off by Pluto to be his wife. Ceres besought Jupiter to intercede in the matter, and consequently Proserpine was allowed her liberty in intervals. This myth is regarded as an allegory. Proserpine represents the seed which is buried in the earth, and in proper time bursts forth into bloom.

Another version of the myth is that Isis, and it was said that she formed the Milky Way by dropping innumerable wheat heads in the sky."

from Star Lore by William Tyler Olcott

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Virgo the Virgin

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