Crows aren’t very popular. They’re loud and messy, and they’re generally thought of as devious pests.
According to Greek mythology, though, that wasn’t always the case. Originally, crows had silver-white feathers and beautiful voices. But a crow that misbehaved angered one of the gods, who transformed all crows as part of the punishment.
The story is told in three constellations: Crater, the cup; Hydra, the water snake; and Corvus, which represents the crow itself.
The myth says the god Apollo gave the crow a cup and sent him to fetch some water. As the crow flew toward the nearest spring, though, he saw a fig tree and dropped in for a snack. But the figs were still green, so he had to wait several days for them to ripen.
By then, Apollo was mightily displeased, and the crow knew he would be. So the crow grabbed a snake from the river and flew back to Apollo. He told the god that the snake had blocked his way. But Apollo knew the crow himself was to blame. In anger, he gave crows black feathers and raspy voices. He then flung the crow, cup, and snake into the sky, where they remain today.
Look for them climbing into view low in the southeast as the sky gets nice and dark. Corvus is the easiest to find, because its four brightest stars form a pattern that looks like a small sail. The cup is to the crow’s upper right. And the water snake slithers to their right and upper right, stretching almost halfway across the sky.
Script by Damond Benningfield