Tales from DEEP DARK SKY – The Scorpius

Stargazing near Pune
Stargazing near Pune Hey all,

Hope you have enjoyed this monsoon to its full. Well, there way too much around Pune to explore in monsoon. If you don’t know yet what all things you must do when in Pune, keep reading our blogs and listen to our events all the time so that you would know whats happening around Pune.

As we have reached the end of monsoon this year, now is the time to Lie back and look up. Yes i mean it. We literally should lie on our back and keep our eyes high up in the deep dark sky above.  And you know what? this is the best time to stargaze. Why? because the rains have just stopped and it also have cleared, wiped down all the dust in the atmosphere and that’s why we get to see even the faintest of the celestial objects with our naked eyes. But to do so, you must move out of the city and find some place where there is no light pollution at all. Light pollution affects stargazing great way. See some photos taken of same portion of night sky from different area, and you will then realize how important it is to get in some dark places.

See how light pollution affects stargazing near Pune

See how light pollution affects stargazing

In this series of articles, I will share a some interesting stories from the deep dark sky of the stars and the constellations. Each culture in the world has seen some figures in the star patterns and they associated some really very interesting, some times funny, sometimes outdated stories. Yes these stories might seem obsolete now a days to us. However our ancestors, may be thousands of years ago have already figured out the great knowledge, which now we call as scientific discoveries. My objective is to make you aware of different aspects of astrology and not get into any sort of arguments over past, history or mythology. Lets start then.

Our first Tell-a-tale is of The great Scorpius.

Ohh, you must have recollected the movie, The Scorpion King. Right? Yes. Hollywood has used the celestial objects very creatively in movies. We can see many sky objects as living beings or even gods in such movies. May be in some other article i will  write/list names of all such great sci-fi movies which awakens curiosity to know the universe far better way. Let’s not off track ourselves now. 

You have got only a few days left to see the great Scorpius in the night sky. Because after some days, we wont be able to see this constellation in the sky. And you might will have stay awake till late night or even early morning to see it.

Where to Scorpius in the sky these nights?

We gotta look south-west, just above the horizon and can see this constellation almost parallel to the horizon. See the picture below. वृश्चिक राशी - या दिवसांमध्ये (ऑक्टोबर मध्यापर्यंत) वृश्चिक दक्षिण गोलार्धात, क्षितिजाच्या वर सायंकाळी अगदी थोड्या वेळाप्रताच दिसतो. Increase brightness of phone and flip the phone to see bigger image. Letter S in red means south direction and keep looking toward west (your right) and you can see Scorpius (inverted question mark, parallel to the horizon) Got it?

Each constellation in the sky is mere an arrangement to standardize the process so that everybody could refer to the same group of stars, when a name is uttered. Zodiac signs and constellations are same things. But these two are way apart. Astrology and astronomy are two different things. We are not going to talk about astrology in these articles and even later. We focus on astronomy -the science.

This photo is taken by Akira Fuji, a Japanese Astro-Photographer. You can our milky way and Scorpius towards little right of the milkyway. To see High definition version of this picture, please click here

What time to look for this constellation?

These days and coming a month may be, we look for Scorpius around 7 or later in the evening. As the sun sets, and it starts getting darker, the stars in this constellation start illuminating. (Avoid city light – hope you remember this also)

Orion is considered as the God of Hunting Greek-o-Roman civilization. And being really apt at his hunting skills, Orion get over confident and declares that he is going to hunt down all the animals form Earth. Mother earth, also a Goddess, named as Gaia, concerns about this and sets Scorpius in the pursuit of killing Orion. Scorpius bites Orion on his leg and Orion starts running. Scorpius chases him and chases and chases. The chase is never ending. The chase is still going on. This is a great Greek myth to explain why these constellations are separated in the night sky. And that’s how mother nature saves all the animals on Earth.

In another version, Orion get overconfident and declares himself as the best hunter of all the Gods. Artemis another goddess of hunting and especially Goddess of health and beauty and virginity i women. She feels inferior of the claim. She feels being rejected. So she orders Scorpion to kill Orion. In another version, Her brother Apollo, sets Scorpius to bring down Orion. When the battle between Scorpion and Orion ends, when Orion is brought down, Apollo allots places to both of in the heaven, and at opposite side of the earth. 

Artemis – She was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows

There isn’t any tale associated with Scorpius in Indian scriptures. The idea of constellation is adopted Indians from the Greek-Roman cultures. This idea was brought to India to introduce Indian version of Astrology. However Astronomy was very well studied by Indians since Vedic period. We will look into such references also in coming articles.

One more very important thing about Scorpius is the fact that, it makes a wonderful view while rising up. 

You can the brightest star in Scorpion. This star looks reddish. In Indian astronomy, we call this star as Jyeshtha. Jyeshtha means the elder. Why would Indian scholars have named it Jyeshtha?

The reason is they thought or found out that this particular star is bigger may be biggest. And you know what modern astro-physicists say about this star? This star is 700 times the diameter of our very SUN, large enough to engulf the orbit of Mars, if the solar system were centered on it.

Antares, the red star and the tiny little dot is our SUN. This image is just for the purpose of learning the size and how huge Jyeshta (Antares )is.

Interesting ! Isn’t it? How could Ancient Indian  scholars have come to know that Jyeshtha is that big, that we could label it Jyeshtha. Hope you have liked this Tale of the DEEP DARK SKY. Do Share if you liked it.  
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