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Aquarius (the water bearer)

Location: Zodiac constellation, visible in both hemispheres
Right Ascension: 23h
Declination: -15º
Source: Identified by most ancient cultures
Aquarius Constellation

The story behind the name: The constellations that are included in the Zodiac - the 12 constellations recognized by Babylonian astronomers through which our Sun, moon, and planets appeared to travel during the course of a year - are considered to be among the oldest sky patterns recognized by human civilizations. They were thought to have more significance because they were touched by the Sun. The pattern of Aquarius was identified with water by almost all ancient cultures, including the Chinese and Indian, probably because its rising coincided with the rainy season.

Johannes Hevelius' Aquarius from Uranographia (1690)

The names given by Arabs to several of the stars in this constellation contain the word "luck", perhaps a reference to the good fortune brought by the effect of seasonal rains on the harvest, and the Arab name for the entire constellation translates as "well bucket". The constellation is located in the area of the sky that contains many other water-related constellations including Pisces and Capricornus. The Babylonians associated it with their myth of a great flood. The Greeks and Romans associated it with a figure pouring or bearing water - Zeus pouring life-giving water down on the Earth, or Ganymede bearing the libations of the gods. The Romans also saw it as the source of the celestial river Eridanus that figures in other myths of the Gods.

Introduction to Constellations | Constellation Sources | Constellations Index

Objects observed by Chandra in Aquarius: