Wednesday, February 5, 2014


One Greek legend refers to the constellation Auriga as Erichthonius, the son of Vulcan and Minerva. Erich (for short), was born deformed and could not walk well. To remedy his situation, Erich invented the four-horse chariot to get him around the kingdom. He was so respected for his invention that he became the fourth king of Athens. Also Erich had a soft spot for crippled or injured animals, his favorite being a little she-goat (Capella). In the sky we are supposed to see Erich holding little Capella and two other goats as they race around the heavens.

Capella is one of the brightest stars in the sky and easy way to find Auriga. When low in the sky it twinkles red, white, and blue. The Arabs called it, "The Driver," "The Singer," and "The Guardian of the Pleiades." It was, "The Heart of Brahma" in India. And in South America this star was one of the favorites among shepherds who called it "Colca." Astronomers have figured out that Capella is actually a four-star system with two big yellow suns and two little red ones. 

Look for Auriga almost straight overhead in the February evenings.  Its stars form a squished-pentagon shape. Capella will be your guide and you can use it to find  "the kids" on the next clear night.