Hydra is the largest of the 88 officially recognized constellations in the sky. Finding the huge water snake will be a little difficult because the constellation has only one bright star. But it’s not hopeless. One method to locate Hydra is to find the two bright stars in Gemini. Connect the dots of those two stars and continue a line to the south. This line of sight will take you to Hydra’s many heads - it should look like five or six dim stars together. Trace down the coils to the left and you will find Alphard (also a Harry Potter character), the snake’s heart, and the rest of his long body.
The Arabs named this star Alphard meaning “The Solitary One” because it seems to sit low in the southern sky all by itself. Alphard is an orange giant which is an appropriate color since it is supposed to mark the heart of the snake.
Another way to find Hydra is to first locate Leo the Lion. Find the backwards question mark that is Leo’s head. The lion is facing Hydra so look where Leo is looking and you should find either the six-starred head or bright heart of Hydra.
The Greeks believed that Hydra was a terrible monster with seven, eight, or even nine heads that lurked in the swamps of Lerna. Each head had a different scary face - with long teeth, fangs, or gums. Okay, maybe not gums. But people had tried to kill the Hydra before and discovered that every time you cut off one of her heads, two more would grow back in its place!
What do you do?
Tune in next week for the exciting tale!
I'm Dean Regas from the Cincinnati Observatory and welcome to Deanspace. This is a site to share the mythology of the stars and constellations. Each week I will post a new myth related to a constellation visible in the night sky along with some images taken by Cincinnati area amateur astronomers, and astronomy pictures of the day.