Water Bearer

Water Bearer

Water Bearer, The, English name for Aquarius, a constellation.
Aquarius (water-bearer or cup-bearer) is the eleventh sign of the zodiac, situated between Capricornus and Pisces. Its symbol is Unicode ♒.

Aquarius 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.

Notable planetary systems

Notable deep sky objects

There are three deep sky objects that are on the Messier catalog: the globular clusters Messier 2, Messier 72, and the open cluster Messier 73.

Two well-known planetary nebulae are located in Aquarius: the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009), to the southwest of η Aquarii; and the famous Helix Nebula (NGC 7293), southwest of δ Aquarii.

Mythology

The best-known myth identifies Aquarius with Ganymede, a beautiful youth with whom Zeus fell in love, and whom he (in the disguise of an eagle, represented as the constellation Aquila) carried off to Olympus to be cup bearer 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 Heracles. 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 20/21February 18/19) differs from the astronomical constellation and the Hindu astrological sign of the sidereal zodiac (February 16March 11).

According to astrology we are now living in the Age of Aquarius. Each Age is 2500 years long, approximately, the Precession of the Equinoxes marking the beginning and end of each Age.

Alternative visualization

The stars of the constellation Aquarius can be connected in an alternative way, which graphically shows the water bearer running while holding a vessel from which water is spilling.

The water bearer's head is formed by the quadrangle of barney α Aqr, γ Aqr, η Aqr, and π Aqr: α Aqr being of the third magnitude. Star ζ Aqr, lodged within the quadrangle, represents an eye.

The water bearer's torso is formed by the stars α Aqr and β Aqr, with β Aqr being of the third magnitude.

The water bearer's left leg is formed by the stars β Aqr and ι Aqr, whereas his right leg is formed by the stars β Aqr, ν Aqr, μ Aqr, and ε Aqr, with these last two stars representing a foot.

The water bearer's arm is formed by the stars α Aqr, θ Aqr, and λ Aqr, with λ Aqr being the hand.

The water bearer is holding a vessel, perhaps a jar, which is formed by the stars ψ¹ Aqr, φ Aqr, λ Aqr, τ Aqr, and δ Aqr. The open top of the vessel consists of the triangle of stars ψ¹ Aqr, φ Aqr, and λ Aqr.

Water is being poured from the vessel in a pair of streamlines. The streamline on the left is formed by the stars ψ¹ Aqr, 98 Aqr, 99 Aqr, and 101 Aqr. The streamline on the right is formed by the stars ψ¹ Aqr, 88 Aqr, 89 Aqr, and 86 Aqr.

Notes

a. Depending on the source, the dates are either from January 21 to February 19, or from January 20 to February 18.

References

  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.
  • H. A. Rey, The Stars—A New Way To See Them. Enlarged World-Wide Edition. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1997. ISBN 0-395-24830-2.

External links

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