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Another of the great Greek plays that take place across the skies throughout the seasons, has characters easily found in the skies now.

SCORPIUS

"Scorpius, the Scorpion" is easily recognized in the southern sky as a large constellation that looks like a scorpion with a great curving tail. The bright star "Antares" is a part of the constellation. Scorpius lies on "the ecliptic", the path that the sun and the signs of the zodiac follow across the sky. "Scorpius" is the same as "Scorpio" in the zodiac.

One of the winter's most widely recognized constellations is "Orion, the hunter" who is not visible in the summer sky because the goddess Artemis, in a fit of anger sent Scorpius to slay Orion. Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, the moon and nature. In the winter, followers of Artemis were ritually sacrificed to Orion. Orion, stung by the scorpion could not be saved even by Asclepius, the god of healing, and so Orion disappears from the sky as Scorpius appears.

Scorpius was also responsible for spooking the horses when Phatheon tried to drive the Chariot of the Sun. As the horses dashed around the sky, they caused great havoc by scorching the earth and drying up rivers.

SAGITTARIUS

Following Scorpius along the ecliptic is the next zodiac constellation, "Sagittarius, the Archer". The idea of the archer probably originated with the Babylonians, for whom he was the god of war. Sagittarius stands with his arrow pointed at the heart of Scorpius. Sagittarius is most easily found by locating an asterism that looks like a teapot.

Near Sagittarius' arrow, is the center of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. There is no marker for it. It is 28,000 light years away.


Star Map for July 4, 1996 with the Jupiter, Neptune and Uranus in place.

SUMMER SKIES * THE SOLSTICE * SKY STORIES

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