Monday, June 21, 2010

Corona Borealis - The Northern Crown

This is one of the most identifiable constellations in the sky. Although Corona Borealis has almost all dim stars, the outline of the seven form a subtle ring of sparkling jewels. The constellation lies between Bootes the Bear Driver and the mighty Hercules. The best way to find it is first find the Big Dipper. Go do the handle of the Big Dipper but do not follow the arc to the bright star Arcturus, straighten out the line (go farther left or east) and there you will find the lovely crown.

The Greeks likened this star picture to the crown presented to a beautiful maiden named Ariadne. She fell in love with the Prince of Athens, Theseus. Unfortunately for their love affair, Theseus was chosen to be sacrificed in the great labyrinth whose twisting halls were roamed by the vicious Minotaur - half man, half bull. Before Theseus was thrown into the labyrinth, Ariadne gave him a sword to kill the beast and a huge spool of thread. Theseus tied one end of the thread to the entrance and reeled out the thread as he walked through the maze. This way, he would be able to find his way out.

Theseus killed the Minotaur and followed the thread back to Ariadne’s arms. They lived happily ever after for only a few years. Theseus got bored with family life and left Ariadne high and dry. The god of wine Bacchus took pity on Ariadne for this slimy act and granted her the most beautiful crown in the world. Upon her death, the crown was placed in the skies for all to see.