Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered how many stars, galaxies or milkyways are there? Us humans have been so advance in technology that we have explored so much about the space in the recent years. One of the most beautiful things that we found is the constellations. According to many different mythologies each constellation that we have found out tells a story or hides a meaning. These constellations have also been used for astrology from a very old period. Indian astronomers, Greek astronomers and Chinese astronomers did a lot of research on these constellations. These constellations are also associated with gods of ancient time that have been mentioned in books and epics. We don’t know the truth that whether these books are true or not or if the stories are myths or reality of our past. So here is a list of top ten beautiful constellations and their meanings that people have written about them.
- Ursa major
Big dipper asterism is formed by the brightest stars of the constellation, the Ursa major which lies in the northern sky. Among all the northern constellations, it is the largest constellations known to the humankind and is also the third largest constellation in the sky. Ursa major is known as the great bear and is very popular among people who links it with a number of myths and superstitions. In Greek mythology one such story is that Ursa major is associated with a nymph named Callisto who was turned into a bear because of jealousy by Hera, wife of Zeus.
This constellation is named after the winged horse Pegasus in the Greek mythology. Pegasus is the seventh largest constellation out of the 88 constellation discovered till now. The story behind the constellation is that it is associated with a horse named Pegasus that had wings and magical powers. It was born with Medusa’s blood and become the horse of a hero of the Greek mythology bellerophon who was given a mission to kill a monster named chimera. Bellerophon’s mission was succeeded with the help of the goddess of wisdom Athena and Pegasus the horse.
- Ursa minor
Ursa minor also lies in northern hemisphere like the Ursa major and the name of the constellation is the smaller bear in Latin. The Greek astronomer Ptolemy was the first man to list it in the 2nd century along with Ursa major. There are many stories that are linked to this constellation by the Greeks. One of the story is Zeus’s father Cronus was scared of an old prophecy which was that one from his all children will kill him and become the supreme god so he swallowed five of his children. Zeus’s mother rhea tricked Cronus by making him swallow a stone instead of Zeus due which the prophecy become true.
The Orion constellation is one of the most beautiful and brightest constellation in the sky which lies on the celestial equator. It consists of two of the brightest stars called Rigel and Betelguese, some famous nebula and the famous asterism the Orion’s belt. According to Sumerian mythology the constellation is associated with their hero Orion who fought with the bull of heaven which was depicted by Taurus which is another constellation in the sky.
Taurus means bull in Latin and it is the oldest constellation in the northern sky dating back to the bronze age. Claudius Ptolemy was the first Greek astronomer to list it in the 2nd century. The Taurus constellation has bright stars like the Aldebaran, Elnath and the Alcyone. There are many more amazing things that the constellation holds such as the crab nebula, crystell ball nebula and the merope nebula. According to epic of Gilgamesh, Taurus is the bull of heaven sent by the goddess Ishtar to defeat Gilgamesh after he rejected her demands.
In the 2nd century, the Greek astronomer Ptolemy discovered this constellation. Virgo lies in the southern hemisphere and holds one of the brightest stars names Spica. The Sombrero galaxy, the eye galaxies, the Siamese twins and messier 58,59,60,87 are among the deep sky objects which this constellation holds. It is the second largest constellation in the sky which the area of 1294 square degrees. In many stories the constellation is associated with goddess Atargatis and the Syrian goddess who died by hanging herself as she couldn’t bare the loss of her father.
Found in the northern celestial hemisphere, the Gemini constellation means “the twins” in Latin. Castor and Pollux are the two very bright stars of Gemini constellation. It has an area of 514 square degrees and is the 30th largest constellation in the sky. According to the myths Gemini constellation is associated with the twins named polydeuces and castor that together were known as dioscuri which means sons of Zeus.
Occupying the area of about 506 square degrees, cancer constellation is the 31st largest constellation in the sky and is located in the northern sky. Cancer is linked with a giant crab in the Greek mythology and it is believed that Hera the jealous goddess sent a crab to kill Heracles who is a Greek hero but got defeated itself and was thrown to the sky after being killed by Heracles.
Cassiopeia constellation lies in north of the sky and is popularly known because of its asterism that is formed by the brightest stars. Ptolemy was the first Greek astronomer to find out about the Cassiopeia constellation. The myth behind the constellation is that the Cassiopeia, wife of king Cepheus and mother to Andromeda made 50 sea nymphs that were daughters of Titan Nereus angry. They made her sacrifice her daughter Andromeda to a sea monster, who was later rescued by Greek hero Perseus.
The meaning of Aquarius is water carrier and Aquarius constellation is one of the oldest constellation known to the human kind. This constellation doesn’t have bright stars like other constellations. The brightest stars in this constellation are alpha and beta aquarii. According to Greeks this constellation is associated with Ganymede who was a handsome guy and served as cup bearer to the gods for which he was gifted eternal youth. The meaning of the name Aquarius is water carrier or cup carrier according to Latin.