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Moon and Saturn

June 18, 2010

Many of the gods and goddesses of the ancient world weren't nice guys. They lied, they cheated, they stole, and they even killed. And many of these actions were aimed at their own families.

Consider the Greek god Kronos, who in Rome became known as Saturn. He was the father of an entire race of gods -- the gods of Olympus. But to protect himself from his progeny, he swallowed them whole as soon as they were born -- except for one.

According to the story, Kronos was the ruler of the gods known as the Titans. His parents had foretold that one of his children would defeat him. So each time his wife, Rhea, gave birth to a new baby, Kronos swallowed it.

Rhea wasn't happy with that arrangement, though, so she tricked him. She hid her son, Zeus, in a cave, and -- perhaps showing why you shouldn't gobble your food -- gave Kronos a stone wrapped in a blanket.

When Zeus grew up, he drugged his father, forcing him to regurgitate his now-grown-up children. They ganged up and waged war against the Titans. They won, and imprisoned the Titans in a pit at the edge of the world. With Zeus as their leader, these brothers and sisters then ruled the world from Mount Olympus.

The planet Saturn was named in honor of the god. And it's in good view tonight. It looks like a bright star directly above the Moon at nightfall. The orange planet Mars is to their right. It represents another of the gods of Olympus -- but that's a whole other story.

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2010

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