Friday, May 4, 2012


Although Corvus is a small constellation, it’s relatively easy to find in the sky. Look for his distinctive square/trapezoid shape low in the southern sky riding on the back of Hydra the water snake. In an area of few bright stars Corvus stands out in the late spring and early summer evenings.

The Greeks associated this constellation with a story about the god Apollo. Apollo often used a crow as a messenger - to pick up his lunch, dry cleaning, etc. One day, Apollo sent Corvus out with a golden cup to gather some water for him. The crow took the cup in his beak and flew off toward the river. But along the way, Corvus became distracted by a grove of fig trees. He decided to stop of and eat some of these delicious fruits.

 Well, Corvus completely lost track of time while chowing down, and began to panic. “Oh no. Oh no. Apollo is going to kill me for returning so late,” he cried. “I must find an excuse.” So Corvus flew around and spotted a humongous water snake swimming in the river. Corvus swooped down and grabbed the snake in his claws to carry back to Apollo as an excuse.
"What? Don't you believe me?"
When he returned, Apollo was furious. “Where have you been!” he screamed. “You see, your most worshipness,” Corvus whimpered, “I was delayed in bringing you your water to quench your divine thirst. But it wasn’t my fault. It was this accursed water snake. He wouldn’t let me get you any water. So I picked him up and brought him here for you to see.”

“Oh, I see,” said Apollo softly. Because Apollo could sense this tale for what it was. It was a lie – and not even a very good lie. In a fit of rage, Apollo banished the crow, the cup, and the water snake to the sky forever. And as a final punishment to Corvus, he must ride on the snake’s back for eternity with the cup of water just out of his beak’s grasp - forever thirsty. And to this day crows are cursed with such rough, raspy voices.

"So thirsty..." Click on it for a larger picture of Corvus, Crater (the cup) and Hydra