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If you are here, it is probably because you want to know more about what this celestial map means and what is on it?
If so, here are some explanations:
First of all, this sky map is a visual representation of the constellations and stars that were above your head at a very specific time and place, which is indicated in the lower part of your poster.
As you will have noticed, we have added cardinal points to identify the constellations that were in the sky that day.
East and West are reversed because this map is supposed to represent the sky above your head, not the ground beneath your feet as a road map would.
These constellations help us to find our way around. They form recognisable patterns among the stars.
In all, there are 88 of them. But in reality, they are never all visible at the same time. We do not see them all depending on several parameters such as the hemisphere we are in, the time of year or the time of day we observe them.
Some of the constellations may be familiar to you, but if you want to know their stories, here is one of them:
In Greek mythology, Andromeda is an Ethiopian princess who fell victim to the pride of her mother Cassiopeia, who declared that her daughter was as beautiful as the Nereids, the sea nymphs who accompanied Poseidon. Andromeda provoked Poseidon's anger and was thrown naked on a rock to be eaten by a sea monster. But according to legend, Perseus saved the girl before making her his wife.
The constellation of the ship Argo was named by an ancient Greek poet Aratos of Soles, and later taken up by Ptolemy in his Almagest. Until the mid-18th century, it represented the Argo, the ship in which Jason and the Argonauts recovered the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology.
The set of stars, perceived as too imposing, was divided into three smaller constellations by Louis de Lacaille in 1750: the Carina, the Stern and the Sails, each representing a part of the Argo.
The Sobieski Shield
Also known as 'the shield', this small constellation is one of the few that owes its name to a historical figure. Therefore, its name refers to King John III. Sobieski of Poland, who defeated the armies of the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century, notably in a great battle on 12 September 1683.
With its many bright stars, easily visible from the northern hemisphere, Orion is undoubtedly the oldest constellation observed by humans, although it has been perceived in different ways by different civilisations.
In Greek mythology, he represents the legendary hunter Orion, known for his beauty and violence and who boasts of being able to kill any animal. Although there are different versions of his death, it is said that he was killed by a giant scorpion sent by Artemis, the goddess of the hunt, protector of forests and forest animals.
With its fairly bright stars, the eagle constellation was created by Aratos, then by Ptolemy, from the 2nd century onwards. According to Greek mythology, it represents the eagle of Zeus who was chosen by the king of the gods to eat the liver of Prometheus every day, who was chained to a rock. Prometheus was a titan who had been condemned for stealing the "divine knowledge", i.e. the sacred fire of Olympus, to offer it to humans.
This constellation owes its name to Queen Berenice II of Egypt, wife of Ptolemy III. The latter, away at war, made Alexandria an important cultural centre. In order to see her husband again, Berenice II went to the temple of Aphrodite to promise that she would sacrifice her long hair, of which she would be very proud, if her husband returned safely from the war.
When King Ptolemy returned from war. Berenice cut her hair as promised in the temple of the goddess before it disappeared the next night.
Ptolemy was enraged and closed the city gates to find the lost hair, but in vain. To appease the king and queen, the astronomer Konon of Samos announced that the offering had been placed in the sky by the goddess Aphrodite and pointed to the constellation then known as 'the tail of the lion'.
Hercules is the largest constellation in the northern hemisphere and the fifth largest in the sky. Already present in ancient times in Ptolemy's Almagest, it takes its name from the Greek mythological hero Heracles or Hercules in Roman times.
According to legend, he is the son of the god Zeus and Alcmene, descendant of the hero Perseus and wife of King Amphitryon. In order to have a son who could help men and gods, Zeus took advantage of Amphitryon's absence to accept his appearance and spend the night with Alcmene. From this relationship was born Hercules, one of the most revered characters of ancient Greece.
Like many other constellations, Ophiuchus was first recorded by Aratus of Soles, then by Ptolemy in his Almagest. Presented as a man surrounded by a snake, the stellar ensemble in Greek mythology embodied the legendary doctor Asclepius, son of Apollo and beaten by Zeus for raising the dead. Later, the king of the gods is said to have put him in paradise to honour his healing skills.
The Great Bear
It is one of the most obvious constellations to observe in the sky, especially as it is the third largest in the sky. Already included by Ptolemy's Almagest, it is said to represent Callisto in Greek mythology, a nymph beloved of Zeus.
When Hera, the wife of the king of the gods, discovered the extramarital relationship between her and her spouse, she transformed Callisto into Ursa Major (Great Bear) and her son Arcas into Ursa Minor (Little Bear). The two constellations were then condemned to constantly revolve around the North Pole without ever being allowed to rest.
It is one of the constellations that can be observed particularly well in summer. The star representing the eagle's head, Altair, is one of the brightest in the sky. Form the "summer triangle" with Deneb and Vega.
One of the twelve works of Hercules was to obtain the golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides. On the way, the hero found poor Prometheus chained to a rock. Zeus, the father of the gods, had imposed this punishment because Prometheus had brought fire and knowledge to humanity without his knowledge. The eagle came every day to peck at a piece of Prometheus' liver. Hercules killed the eagle with an arrow and released Prometheus from his ordeal.
Today, Capricorn is an extraordinary hybrid of a goat and a fish, whose origins date back to the time of the Gigantomachy. During a battle, the Olympian gods fled from the giants and transformed themselves into animals to camouflage themselves. Zeus' wife, Hera, was transformed into a white cow and Zeus himself into a sheep.
Lonely, Pan the shepherd god became two animal halves at once: the upper half became a goat and the lower half a fish. This is where the ancient mythological name 'goatfish' came to describe the present-day constellation Capricorn.
This constellation was first identified by the Babylonians, then by the Sumerians, who considered it to be their ancestor god Pabilsag. The Greeks named the constellation Chiron, the same character as Sagittarius, who was a centaur.
A centaur is a creature with the bust of a human and the body of a horse, known for its dexterity with a bow and arrow. Chiron was a famous poet who took Hercules, Aesculapius and Achilles under his wing. Although he was immortal, his helmet was pierced by a poisoned arrow and the pain made him wish for his death. That is why Zeus honoured him by putting him in the sky.
We hope this article has helped you learn more about your star chart. The sky is rich in history and knowledge. Therefore, a single article cannot gather all the information on the subject.
If you want to know everything about this one in detail, check out our various articles on topics such as stars in astronomy, astrology or ancestry in the articles section of our My Stars Memories website or follow us on Instagram!
See you soon!