Man has always looked to the stars, tying their appearance and location to events on earth, from births, deaths and natural disasters to changes in weather, harvests and even the migratory patterns of wildlife.
Many have believed, and some still do, that the constellations hold the key to understanding the world.
Al-Ghorab, the Corvus constellation, is a small star group in the southern sky, modeled on the Babylonian raven. Babylonians associated the constellation with Adad, the god of rain and storm, because its stars would rise before the onset of the spring rains.
One myth associated with Corvus is that when Apollo received news of his wife Coronis’s unfaithfulness from a pure white crow, he turned its feathers black in rage.
Ad-Dulfin, the Delphinus constellation, is located in the northern sky. The constellation represents the dolphin sent by the sea god Poseidon to find Amphitrite, the sea goddess he wanted to marry. One of the major stars in the constellation is Epsilon Delphini. Its traditional name, Deneb Dulfim, comes from the Arabic “zanab ad-dulfin,” or dolphin’s tail.
Ad-Dubb Al-Akbar, or Ursa Major, the Greater Bear, includes a group of stars commonly known as the Big Dipper, and is one of the most recognizable patterns in the northern sky. One of its stars, Dubhe, gets its name from the Arabic “dubb,” which means bear.
Al-Hamal, or the Aries constellation, in the northern hemisphere is usually associated with the story of the Golden Fleece in Greek mythology. Hamal is the brightest star in the constellation, and its name is derived from the Arabic “Ras Al-Hamal,” or Head of the Ram. Another star, Delta Arietis, or Botein, gets its name from the Arabic “baten” or “butain,” which means “belly.”
Al-Asad, the Lion, or the Leo constellation, is one of the largest constellations in the night sky. It is usually associated with the Nemean lion in Greek mythology. Regulus Alpha Leonis is the brightest star. Its Arabic name, Qalb Al-Asad, means “the heart of the lion.” Denebola is the second-brightest star in Leo. Its name is derived from the Arabic “Danab Al-Asad,” which means “the lion’s tail.”