Aquarius

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For other uses, see Aquarius (disambiguation).Template:Infobox Constellation

Aquarius (♒), being Latin for of the water, is one of the oldest recognized constellations along the zodiac, the sun's apparent path. It is found in a region often called the Sea due to its profusion of watery constellations such as Cetus, Pisces, Eridanus, etc. Sometimes, the river Eridanus is depicted spilling from Aquarius' watering pot.

Contents

Notable features

Some principal stars in Aquarius include:

  • α Aquarii, Sadalmelik ("lucky one of the king"), found nearly on the celestial equator;
  • β Aquarii, Sadalsud ("luckiest of the lucky");
  • γ Aquarii, Sadachbia ("lucky star of hidden things");
  • δ Aquarii, Skat or Scheat ("shin").

The stars γ, ζ, η, and π Aquarii compose an asterism called the Urn, representing Aquarius' watering pot.

Two meteor showers originate from Aquarius: the Eta Aquarids (near May 4) and the Delta Aquarids (near June 28), both providing about 20 meteorites per hour.

Notable deep sky objects

There are three deep sky objects that are on the Messier catalog, the Globular Cluster M2, Globular Cluster M72, and the Open Cluster M73.

Two planetary nebulae are found in Aquarius: NGC 7009, called the Saturn Nebula due to its resemblance to the planet, to the southeast of η Aquarii; and NGC 7293, the famous Helix Nebula, southwest of δ Aquarii.

History

The constellation was immortalized in the 1960s, proclaimed the Age of Aquarius. However, there is no standard definition for astrological ages, so the age of Aquarius could begin in 2150 or even 2660, depending on the preferred definition. Based on the modern constellation boundaries of Pisces and Aquarius, the age of Aquarius would begin around 2660.

Mythology

Aquarius has been variously identified through the ages. The best-known myth identifies Aquarius with Ganymede, a beautiful youth with whom Zeus fell in love, and whom he carried off to Olympus to be cupbearer to the gods. Crater is sometimes identified as his cup.

Aquarius generally resembles the figure of a man, and when considering fainter humanly visible stars, it takes on the image of a man with a bucket from which is pouring a stream. Aquarius was also identified as the pourer of the waters which flooded the earth in the Great Flood, in the ancient Greek version of the myth. As such, the constellation Eridanus was sometimes identified as being a river poured out by Aquarius.

It may also, together with the constellation Pegasus, be part of the origin of the myth of the Mares of Diomedes, which forms one of The Twelve Labours of Herakles. Its association with pouring out rivers, and the nearby constellation of Capricornus, may be the source of the myth of the Augean stable, which forms another of the labours.

Astrology

The Western astrological sign Aquarius of the tropical zodiac (January 20 - February 18) differs from the astronomical constellation and the Hindu astrological sign of the sidereal zodiac (February 16 - March 11).

In some cosmologies, Aquarius is associated with the classical element Air, and thus called an Air Sign (with Libra and Gemini). It is also one of the four Fixed signs (along with Leo, Scorpio, and Taurus). Its polar opposite is Leo. It is the domicile of Saturn (since its discovery Uranus has been considered Aquarius' ruling or co-ruling planet by many modern astrologers). Each astrological sign is assigned a part of the body, viewed as the seat of its power. Aquarius rules the circulatory system as well as the ankles. The symbol for Aquarius is the water bearer.

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