Mythology and Astronomy

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A constellation is a group of stars that we see close to each other in the night sky.  Constellations usually look like Greek mythological figures.


Stars in a constellation can be far away from each other, sometimes hundreds of light years away, but from the Earth we see them close to each other and in the same direction.  A light year is a unit of distance, not of time. It is the distance that light can travel in one year. So in one year it can travel a distance of 10 trillion Kms.   Imagine:  It takes only 8 minutes for the  light to get from the sun to the Earth.


The constellation of Scorpius   is formed by a group of stars that make up the shape of a scorpion (Scorpius is the Latin word for scorpion). We can distinguish clearly a sting and two tweezers.


The brightest star is Antares and it is situated in the cephalothorax of this arachnid. Antares is an enormous and red star, brighter than the sun. Its radius is 600 times the radius of sun.


In Greek Mythology the story of Scorpius is related to Orion. Orion was the son of Poseidon and Gea. He grew up so much that he became a giant.  He was also a very good hunter and when he was with his friends, he boasted he could kill any beast. Gea was so tired that she sent an enormous scorpion to bite him. Orion thought it was a ridiculous animal, but the scorpion bit him. Orion killed the scorpion, but some hours later Orion died because of the poison of the scorpion. As a punishment, Zeus situated the two constellations, Scorpius and Orion, far away from each other so that they would never fight again.




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