Pegasus Rising

StarDate: September 5, 2009

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If you like mythology -- especially of the animated kind -- then you might want to look at the eastern sky this evening, where the flying horse is taking wing.

The horse is Pegasus. He's a character from Mediterranean mythology. But he's best known for a couple of myths that he wasn't really a part of -- those of Perseus and Hercules.

In classical Greek mythology, Perseus killed the snake-headed Medusa to save the princess Andromeda from a nasty sea monster. A few drops of Medusa's blood fell into the sea. When it mixed with the foam, it gave birth to Pegasus, who later played a part in the story of another hero, Bellerophon.

But in modern times, Pegasus has become a more integral part of the Perseus story. In recent tellings, when Perseus shows up to save Andromeda, he's riding Pegasus.

And the tale of the flying horse became even more convoluted with Disney's animated version of Hercules, in which Herc and Pegasus are pals.

Whatever the story, Pegasus stretches low across the eastern sky during September's early evening hours. The constellation's most prominent feature is a pattern of four moderately bright stars, which form the Great Square. As Pegasus rises, it's tilted on its side, so it looks more like a diamond than a square.

The square forms his body, with some streamers of stars above and to the right of the square forming his head and forelegs. This evening, Pegasus stretches to the upper left of the Moon.

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2009

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