Learn about the Aries constellation and its history. Here are interesting facts and mythology about the Aries Ram.
Have you ever looked up at the sky and wondered about your zodiac sign’s constellation? Well, if you have, then you’ve come to the right place.
The night sky holds plenty of interesting facts and stories, and the small constellation of Aries has a lot of its own. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to learn more about the Aries constellation.
Aries Constellation – Learn Facts About the Aries Ram
Ptolemy and the Constellations
Let’s begin with a brief account on constellations. Back when technology meant a round wheel and people walked around in togas (particularly 2nd century CE), an astronomer of Greek and Egpytian descent named Claudius Ptolemaeus (better known by his cool, silent-P nickname, Ptolemy) came up with a list of constellations, compiled from many observations of the night sky. There were 48 known ones at the time, and that includes the Aries constellation, which is considered to be pretty well-documented.
Mythologies About the Aries Ram
Behind every great constellation is a story, and Aries is so awesome, it has two. The first has its roots in Greek mythology. Aries is said to be the winged golden ram that saved Phrixus, the son of a Boeotian king, from being wrongfully sacrificed to save his homeland from famine.
The golden ram reappears in a story that comes later featuring Jason and the Argonauts. Is it starting to sound familiar? Yes, it was Aries’ golden fleece that was featured in that story. This is the primary reason why the stars in the constellation are supposedly arranged in such a way that would depict a ram (perhaps if you’re creative enough or look at it at a certain angle).
Another explanation that’s a bit straighter to the point is that Aries is associated with the Greek god of war, Ares, since it is the first sign in the zodiac. Meanwhile, the ancient Babylonians had their own interpretation of the Aries constellation, and it wasn’t actually a ram. For them, the constellation depicted a humble farmer working in his field. Although there really isn’t more to that story, it is believed that the Babylonians also entertained the version with the ram.
The ancient Egyptians also tied their own story to this popular constellation. It was associated with the Egyptian god named Amon-Ra, which made a lot of sense because he was depicted as a man with a ram’s head. He represented ingenuity and fertility, and if you think about it, that is similar to the Babylonian interpretation of an agrarian worker. Cool, right?
Fast Facts: History, Location, and Notable Stars
Despite being a well-known and well-loved constellation for centuries, the Aries constellation was actually just recognized officially in 1922. Eight years later, in 1930, astronomer Eugene Delporte officially defined its borders.
If you wish to observe Aries in its truest form, then you have look around in the Northern Hemisphere on December nights; take note that it is sandwiched between Taurus (which lies to its east) and Pisces (which lies to its west). Since it is the 39th largest constellation, occupying a total of around 440 square degrees, it won’t be that difficult to spot. One foolproof way of identifying the Aries constellation is looking for its most notable stars, which include the following:
- Aplha Arietis
Also known as Hamal, Alpha Arietis is the brightest star in the Aries constellation. It is a giant orange star that lies about 66 light years away from Earth. Hamal is almost as bright as the planet Mars when the latter is at its farthest point from our planet.
- Beta Arietis
Called Sheratan by his friends (kidding), Beta Arietis is the second brightest star in the Aries constellation which is a direct point at one of the ram’s horns. It is a binary star located about 60 light years away from Earth.
- Gamma Arietis
Completing the three brightest stars in Aries is Gamma Arietis, or Mesarthim. It is actually a triple star system that is located approximately 160 light years away from Earth.
The next time you’re out stargazing, look out for the brave and mighty ram. Take that time to remember all its glorious stories, and marvel out how it has outlasted many lifetimes, and will probably outlast many more.
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