Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science
Early on this June evening, look to the southern sky shortly after sunset. The first star you will likely see, nearly due south, is Spica, in Virgo. However, wait a little and given clear skies and a lack of lights, a number of fainter stars will begin to become visible. Below and to the right of Spica are the constellations of Corvus the Crow, Crater the Cup, and Hydra the Water Snake.
In Greek mythology, Apollo sent the crow to fetch a cup of water. Corvus, however, got distracted eating figs and after much delay, finally remembered his mission. Rightly figuring that Apollo would be angry, the crow plucked a snake from the water and concocted a story about how it had attacked and delayed him. Apollo was not fooled and angrily flung all three into the sky, placing the crow and cup on the snake’s back. Then the god ordered Hydra to never let the crow drink from the cup. As a further punishment, he ordered that the crow could never sing again, only screech and caw.
None of these constellations has any bright stars, but Hydra holds the distinction of being the longest constellation in the heavens.
Written by Deborah Byrd
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