Constellation Aquarius: legend, how many stars, famous people of the sign

Space is often perceived as something cold and distant. Yet there are still enthusiasts who believe that somewhere out there, among the stars, there are other worlds and planets where life thrives. Other races, just like Earthlings, lead their lives, build careers, search for soulmates, and hope to one day conquer the vastness of the Universe.

But for now, all of this remains mere dreams, images in the imagination that arise when gazing at the starry sky adorned with a sprinkling of constellations. These figures made of nocturnal lights, which remain virtually unchanged to the eye over millennia, entice explorers no less than hypothetical alien life.

Especially those twelve through which the Sun passes, completing its annual orbit. These constellations form the Zodiac circle, according to astrologers and their followers, exerting some astral influence on the destinies and characters of people, and even on the course of history as a whole. Each such starry figure is depicted as some fantastic character, for example, Aquarius.

The aggregation of lights in the night sky in the form of a strongly curved arc in ancient atlases was represented as a youth pouring water from a jug. Perhaps this image was seen by our ancestors because the appearance of Aquarius in the sky after a period of invisibility coincided with the onset of autumn, a time when rains are not such a rare occurrence.

Legends of the origin of the constellation:

Son of Prometheus

According to ancient Greek beliefs, the earthly prototype of the heavenly youth with a jug was Deucalion, the son of Prometheus. Every year he visited his father, who was chained to a rock, and received instructions and advice from him. Once the Titan revealed Zeus’s intention to destroy the human race by sending a flood to Earth. Prometheus told his offspring about this and ordered him to build a ship and stock it with supplies.

Constellation Aquarius, Astrological sign

As soon as Deucalion finished his work, the moist southern wind Notus brought black clouds, fog, and rain. The bad weather lasted for many days and nights; rivers and seas overflowed their banks, flooding fields, forests, and even mountains. But Deucalion and his family were saved, thanks to the ship built on Prometheus’s advice and the sacrifice made in Zeus’s name.

When the waters receded, it turned out that besides them, there was not a single living creature left on Earth. The last representatives of the human race were terribly frightened, feeling lonely and unnecessary.

The Thunderer took pity on them and sent Hermes to fulfill Deucalion’s one wish. To which the youth replied: “I pray to Zeus for one thing, that he may repopulate the Earth with humans!”

The Supreme God agreed. He commanded Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha to descend into the valley, lift all the stones from the ground, and throw them behind their backs. The path turned out to be difficult, but the spouses exactly fulfilled the received instruction. When, exhausted, they found themselves at the foot of the mountain, they saw that they were no longer alone. All the stones thrown back turned into strong men and beautiful women.

For the same selfless love for mortals as Prometheus had, Deucalion was transformed into Aquarius and ascended to the sky.

Ganymede, the Trojan

Another myth offers a different interpretation. It tells of the incredibly beautiful Trojan Ganymede. Though he was a mere mortal, his external magnificence could rival the likeness of Apollo himself.

Once, Zeus from Olympus saw the young man and commanded his eagle to bring Ganymede to the foot of his throne. The command of the supreme god was immediately fulfilled. Since then, the young beauty remained living on the mountain. His sole duty was to gather ambrosia and nectar. And to make his servant immortal, Zeus immortalized his image in the starry sky.

Stellar composition of Aquarius

Geographically, Aquarius is located in the southern hemisphere between Capricorn and Pisces. An ordinary observer without the use of additional optical instruments on a clear moonless night will see about 90 stars that make up this constellation. Among them, the most significant and interesting for astronomy are:

  • Alpha Aquarii – the star Sadalmelik (from Arabic, this name translates as “lucky star of the king”). It is a yellow supergiant, located 750 light-years away from Earth.
  • Beta Aquarii – the triple hot supergiant Sadalsuud (“the luckiest among the lucky”). Its luminosity is almost 2200 times that of the Sun.
  • Gamma Aquarii, or Sadachbia (“lucky star of houses”) – it has a magnitude of 3.85, so it is well visible to the naked eye and is one of the points helping to determine the location of the constellation in the starry sky.
  • Delta Aquarii – Skat, presumably has a companion star with an orbital period of 490 days.

In addition, in the center of the constellation, there are 5 bright stars forming the asterism “Water Jug,” from which imaginary water pours.

Other notable objects in the composition of the star figure:

  • Messier 2 and Messier 72 globular clusters;
  • Red dwarf Gliese 876, which has its own system of exoplanets;
  • Nebulae “Saturn” and “Helix.”

Aquarius lies in the radiant points of several meteor showers. Their visibility from Earth is mainly limited to the period from late July to early November.

Interesting facts:

  1. In ancient times, the constellation bore a different name – Aquarius (Latin Aquarius).
  2. Under this name, it was included in the “Almagest” – the oldest collection of star maps created by Claudius Ptolemy.
  3. The ancient Sumerians saw in this starry figure their god of heaven Anu. They worshipped and revered him because the decision of this supreme entity determined whether the year would be dry or fruitful.
  4. In addition to the above-mentioned zodiacal constellations, Aquarius is surrounded by Cetus, the Southern Fish, Hydra, Delphinus, and other “aquatic” clusters, which is why this area is called the Celestial Sea.
  5. The astrological symbol of Aquarius consists of two wavy lines – pictograms of “living” and “dead” water.
  6. All ancient peoples depicted Aquarius as a youth with a vessel, and only the Arabs depicted him as a mule carrying barrels of water.

Celebrities born under the sign of Aquarius:

  • Cristiano Ronaldo – Portuguese footballer, considered one of the greatest players of all time
  • Actress Jennifer Aniston
  • Shakira – Singer and songwriter
  • Jennifer Love Hewitt – Actress and singer
  • Ronda Rousey – Former mixed martial artist and professional wrestler
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Actor known for his roles in films like Inception and 500 Days of Summer
  • Taylor Lautner – Actor known for his role as Jacob Black in the Twilight series
  • John Travolta – Actor known for his roles in films like Grease and Pulp Fiction

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