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In contemporary astrology, there are 88 constellations that are recognized by the International Astronomical Union. 42 depict animals, 29 depict inanimate objects and 17 depict humans or mythological characters.
The ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, and later, the Greeks established the majority of the northern constellations that are officially recognized today. That is why many stars and constellations are connected to ancient myths and legends. For example, the Lyre constellation represents the celestial harp created by Hermes and gifted to Orpheus by Apollo. When Orpheus played love songs to his beloved bride Eurydice, both people and animals would become captivated. When Eurydice died suddenly, Orpheus’ enchanting lyre music convinced the ruler of the underworld to release Eurydice under the condition that Orpheus does not look back at her as she followed him out to the surface. Unable to endure the doubt that she was not behind him, he glanced over his shoulder and witnessed Eurydice fade away back into Hades’ domain. After Orpheus passed away, Zeus placed his lyre in the stars in honor of his beautiful music and forsaken love.
Egyptians and the Zodiac
The ancient Egyptians are believed to have developed the Zodiac system, which was later adopted by the Babylonians.
Early astrologers understood that it took 12 lunar cycles for the sun to return to its original position. They then identified 12 constellations that correlated with the progression of the seasons and named them after certain animals or people. These became the Zodiac signs. The Zodiac signs are divided into four groups. Fire signs include Aries, Sagittarius, and Leo. Water signs include Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Air signs include Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini. Earth signs include Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Babylonian astrologers believed that the Sun, Moon, and five known planets (Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus) imbued distinct powers onto each Zodiac constellation.
Top 10 Constellations
The largest constellation is the Hydra, which takes up 3.2% of the Southern night sky. It is commonly depicted as a water serpent. The best time to see Hydra is in January. The top 10 largest constellations are as follows:
- Hydra – 3.2%
- Ursa Major – 3.1%
- Virgo – 3.1%
- Cetus – 3%
- Hercules – 3%
- Eridanus – 2.8%
- Pegasus – 2.7%
- Centaurus – 2.6%
- Draco – 2.6%
- Aquarius – 2.4%
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