Farmers Almanac
The Farmers Almanac
BUY The 2018 Almanac NOW!

A Snake in the Sky

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Add to Google+ Share on Pinterest Subscribe by Email Print This Post
A Snake in the Sky

Normally, if you wanted to see a snake, you would look down, but that’s not the case with Serpens, an ancient star formation that slithered its way into Greek astronomer Ptolemy’s catalog of 48 constellations all the way back in the Second Century.

Serpens is a highly unusual constellation because it is split into two parts, separated by the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. The two halves of the constellation are referred to a Serpens Caput, or the Serpent’s Head, and Serpens Cauda, or the Serpent’s Tail. Together, they contain 65 stars.

The constellation is bordered by Corona Borealis, Boötes, Virgo, Libra, Ophiuchus, Hercules, Aquila, Sagittarius, and Scutum.

The brightest star in Serpens is Unukalhai, also known as Cor Serpentis, or “the Serpent’s Heart.” None of the other stars in this faint constellation are particularly bright.

(Continued Below)

Serpens is also home to a number of deep-sky objects, including the globular cluster M5, the stunning Eagle Nebula, and several galaxies — Hoag’s Object, ARP 220, and Seyfert’s Sextet, a close grouping of six galaxies.

Though there is much mythology surrounding snakes in numerous cultures and contexts, this specific serpent is connected to the story of Ophiuchus, which represents the Greek healer Asclepius. According to myth, Asclepius learned the secret of immortality from a serpent, but was killed by the god Zeus to prevent him from sharing this knowledge with the rest of humanity.

Articles you might also like...

1 comment

1 PaulaFouss { 04.27.13 at 6:29 pm }

Hello there!

Very interesting story about “A Snake In The Sky”! Question: I live in Arizona so in which direction do I look for the Snake? Can you see it at any time of the year? I would love to check it out. Please let me know.

Thank you very much,


Leave a Comment

Note: Comments that further the discussion of the above content are likely to be approved. Those comments that are vague or are simply submitted in order to promote a product, service or web site, although not necessarily considered "spam," are generally not approved.

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

Spring Is Here – Sign Up Today!

The Farmers' Almanac is a gardener's best friend. Get 365 days of access to our online weather and gardening calendars + a copy of the 2017 Almanac
for only $13.99 $11.99!

Subscribe Today »