In Greek mythology, the gods were always hurling things into the sky and turning them into constellations. Sometimes it was a reward for a job well done; at other times, a punishment. And sometimes, the story tellers just weren't sure.
Consider the story of Corvus, the crow. The constellation is low in the southeast at nightfall, and arcs across the southern sky during the night. Corvus's brightest stars form a small but distinct box.
The crow was a servant of the god Apollo. In one story, Apollo sent the crow to a nearby spring to fetch some water. Corvus lollygagged it, though, and took a long time to return. When he did return, he brought a snake with him, and claimed that it had kept him away from the spring. An angry Apollo punished them by hurling the crow and snake -- along with the water cup -- into the stars, forming Corvus and the adjoining constellations Hydra and Crater.
There's a second version of the story, though. In that one, Apollo sent Corvus to keep an eye on his lover, Coronis. When the crow returned with word that Coronis was cheating on him, Apollo rewarded Corvus by placing him in the stars.
Regardless of whether he was sent there as a reward or a punishment, the crow flaps across the southern sky on spring nights. Look for him to the right of bright Spica, the leading light of Virgo, in early evening, and almost due south around midnight.
We'll have more about Apollo's cup tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2010
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