fbpx
Farmers Almanac
The Farmers Almanac
Order your copy today!

Look Up! Is that a Dragon in the Sky?

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Subscribe by Email Print This Post
Look Up! Is that a Dragon in the Sky?

Look toward the north on any night of the year and you’ll see one of the most prominent constellations in the sky: Draco the dragon.

Draco is of particular interest because it’s not only one of the longest constellations in the sky (though not the absolute longest; that honor goes to Hydra), but also because it is circumpolar. While many other constellations disappear below the horizon at some point during the night, or over the course of a year, circumpolar constellations never set.

Draco begins near the constellation Lyra with a sort of lopsided box made up of four bright stars, including Eltanin, the brightest star in the constellation. These four points represent the head. From there, a line representing the dragon’s neck arches straight up before dipping down to curve underneath Ursa Minor. On the other side of “the little bear,” the tail whips back up and curves away.

Sky watchers have recognized Draco for millennia, and most of them, across a vast array of cultures, have described it as some type of dragon or serpent. The Ancient Egyptians were one notable exception to the rule. To them, the constellation was the goddees Tawaret, who had a body made up of the parts of a human, a crocodile, a lioness, and a hippopotamus.

To the Greeks, Draco represented Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. According to legend, Hercules slew Ladon while stealing one of the apples, which was the eleventh of his famous Twelve Labors. The ancient Romans believed Draco was a dragon slain by Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and poetry, while early Christians saw the constellation as the serpent who tempted Eve.

No matter how you see this impressive constellation, be sure to seek it out next time you’re out sky watching.

2 comments

1 Draconid Meteor Shower: Will the Dragon Breathe Fire This Year? - Farmers’ Almanac { 10.09.19 at 11:04 am }

[…] reach its traditional peak. Usually a moderate meteor shower originating near the constellation Draco, the Dragon, the Draconids have, on occasion, put on a spectacular show, notably in 1933 and 1946, when […]

2 Colleen Beattie { 02.03.11 at 5:45 pm }

When is the new moon of hidden treasures for 2011

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.

Reading Farmers' Almanac on Tablet with Doggie

Don't Miss A Thing!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter and Get a FREE Download!