Skywatch for the week of October 30, 2023
Mon Oct 30, 2023 THE STORY OF PERSEUS AND ANDROMEDA
Well-placed in the eastern sky this evening are four stars which form a large square – this is the great square of the constellation Pegasus the Flying Horse. North of the square there’s Cassiopeia, which resembles a letter W. Queen Cassiopeia was a boastful woman who thought herself more beautiful than the mermaids. In punishment, the sea god Poseidon sent Cetus, the sea monster, those stars below Pegasus and Pisces, to devour Cassiopeia’s daughter, the princess Andromeda, marked by several stars between Cassiopeia and Pegasus. But the hero Perseus, a scattering of stars east of Cassiopeia, came to the rescue by showing Medusa’s head to the sea monster. Cetus looked at the gorgon’s snake-infested head, turned to stone and sank. Then Perseus flew off with Andromeda on the back of Pegasus, and a happy ending.
Tue Oct 31, 2023 CREATURES OF THE NIGHT
If you’re out trick or treating tonight, and the skies are clear, you’ll be able to see some constellations that are suited for Halloween. The three stars in the summer triangle overhead, represent man-eating birds that were chased from the Stymphalian swamps by the hero Hercules. At sunset, the constellations of Scorpius the scorpion is sinking into the southwest. A scattering of stars in the southeast this evening mark the location of Cetus the Whale – a sea monster in Greek mythology. Perseus the hero, over in the northeast, holds out the snake-haired head of the gorgon Medusa, while Draco the dragon guards the northern skies tonight. And after midnight, Canis Major rises in the southeast. He is associated with the three-headed dog Cerberus who guarded the gates of the Underworld.