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Hercules Location: Visible in both Hemispheres
Right Ascension: 17h
Declination: +30º
Source: Greek Mythology
Hercules Constellation

The story behind the name: Hercules, the son of Alcmene and Zeus, is known for his bravery that placed him among the gods on Mount Olympus. Before Hercules was conceived, his father, Zeus, was known as an unfaithful husband. He fell in love with Alcmene and, in turn, a child was born. Alcmene named him Hercules, which literally means "glorious gift of Hera". Zeus' wife, Hera, was enraged. She attempted to kill Hercules by placing snakes in Hercules's crib, but this failed as Hercules strangled the snakes with his bare hands.

Hera, the queen of the gods, knew that she was not strong enough to fight Hercules. Therefore, she decided to get revenge for Zeus' actions by making Hercules's life as miserable as anyone could imagine. As Hercules grew, he became a legendary warrior and fell in love with a woman named Magera. They married and had two children, and they lived happily together. Hera, who kept to her plans of misery, instilled a wild rage in Hercules which caused him to kill his family.

Johannes Hevelius' Herculese from Uranographia (1690)

When the blaze of madness departed, Hercules realized the bloody atrocity that he committed and prayed to the Delphic oracle, Apollo. Apollo said to Hercules that he must complete 10 tasks, which increased to 12 later on, as punishment to cleanse his soul. Hera continued to make life difficult for Hercules while he completed the 12 adventures. Later on, Apollo told Hercules that he would not pass in to the underworld, but would become a god.

Hercules's ascendance to Mount Olympus started when his second and beautiful wife, Deianira, gave him a cloak that she wove herself. In the cloak she smeared a magical balm that a centaur had given her and said that anyone who wore the balm would love her forever. Unfortunately, this was not true and when Hercules put on the cloak he began to burn with severe pain. When he tried to take the cloak off, the pain only became worse and he thought he would die. He asked his friends to build a pyre on Mount Oeta and to light it as he lay on it. But, in the meantime, Zeus had been able to convince Hera that Hercules had gone through enough pain to satiate her anger. She agreed with his argument, and Zeus then sent Athena to recover Hercules and bring him to his new home on Mount Olympus.

Introduction to Constellations | Constellation Sources | Constellations Index

Objects observed by Chandra in Hercules: