Someone once asked me what my favorite constellation is. My favorite constellation? I guess it might be Ophiuchus. He’s very big and strong. In fact, he’s strong enough to hold a big serpent. Some say that Ophiuchus was named after Asclepius, a great legendary healer. (Asclepius could bring back the dead. Hades, the ruler of the underworld, complained to Zeus that his realm was threatened so Zeus struck Asclepius/Ophiuchus down with a thunderbolt and placed him in the heavens.)
Others say that Ophiuchus was named after Imhotep, (meaning “the one who comes in peace”), the founder of Egyptian medicine, since there is no god named Ophiuchus. Because the serpent is used in the medical symbol it seems to make more sense. The Greeks believed that snakes had healing power. The shedding of skin indicated immortality. The snake’s ability to change from a mellow state to one of high energy symbolized the power to recover from illness.
Though there are several other stories of Ophiuchus, I think he was named after Imhotep making Ophiuchus the only constellation named after a real person. Ophiuchus is the only constellation of the zodiac that isn’t used in astrology. (The poor little guy, all he ever wanted was love.)
So, he’s big, he’s peaceful, he isn’t afraid of slimey serpents and his name is kind of fun to say. Try it. Ophiuchus (o fee yoo kus). See, it’s fun. Other fun-to-say constellations include Camelopardalis, (the giraffe), Vulpecula, (Fox with a goose) and Equuleus, (the little horse). Vulpecula could have been my favorite because foxes are pretty cool but the constellation doesn’t look like a fox, much less a fox with a goose. Equuleus is the only word I know of, other than “vacuum”, that has the letter “U” twice in a row which is why it’s fun to say. Some folks think that Equuleus is the illegitimate son of Pegasus. Others claim it’s his brother, Celeris.
There are 88 constellations so it is difficult to pick just one as my favorite. The queen, the king, northern crown, southern crown, big bear, little bear, fox, giraffe, big dog, little dog, hunting dogs, hare, ram, goat, bull, lion, lynx, little horse, winged horse, unicorn, peacock, eagle, swan, dove, phoenix, crane, crow, toucan, bird of paradise, whale, dolphin, southern fish, flying fish, goldfish, fishes, crab, serpent, lizard, chameleon, scorpion, fly, telescope, microscope, octant, sextant, compass, compasses, balance, clock, chisel, arrow, shield, easel, altar, table, furnace, cup, archer, hunter, herdsman, charioteer, water carrier, indian, sculptor, virgin, twins, triangle, square, cross and more. How could anyone have a favorite? I think I like them all.
Pick your favorite constellation from this chart and see if you can find it in tonight’s sky.