Date: Wed, 8 Mar 2006 15:28:14 -0800 (PST)
From: Mark Andrew Holmes <mahtezcatpoc@...>
Reading that thing in the Wikipedia article about Libra about Sigma Librae being misdesignated Gamma Scorpii despite being inside Libra got me thinking (for some reason) about Serpens, which as we know is in two pieces, Serpens Caput (the
Serpent's Head) and Serpens Cauda (the Serpent's Tail), with Ophiuchus between them. (Maybe it's "misdesignation" that got me started on this.)
I've always wondered why Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda were not made separate constellations long ago; it seems as logical (if not more so) as chopping up Argo into Carina, Vela, Puppis and Pyxis. (I think the astronomers did that because they decided Argo was too big.)
Diana, do you have any idea why Serpens is still one constellation to the astronomers?
Oooh, Mark, you've hit a sore point here!
First of all, Serpens is, was and always should be one (hefty) snake, and not chopped in half (same goes for Argo - it's one, big, beautiful ship!)
Actually, Serpens and Ophiuchus were one figure, not two, and, most important, Serpens coiled around the waist of
Ophiuchus (see the Farnese Globe, the earliest western constellation pictures we have) and the accounts of Manilius and Aratus (Aratus based his Phaenomena on Eudoxos, whose work is lost)
I feel so strongly about this that I have created my own illustration for Ophiuchus/Serpens, in which the Serpent
coiled around Ophie.
In the Sagittarius chapter of my book, I have: (note, I have accent marks on some words which my mess up the spelling in transition)
OPHIUCHUS, THE SERPENT-BEARER
SERPENS, THE SERPENT
Shaman Ophiuchus, also known as Serpentarius, struggling with Serpens (Greek Ophis or Anguis) while stepping on the Scorpion-of-Death, was the Phoenician Eschmun (Esmounos), a god of healing; Greeks called him Asklêpios (Aesculapius). Eschmun and Asklêpios may have been two different phases of one archaic deity: according to Burkert, the Akkadian name for “chief physician” (an epithet of goddess Gula, Mesopotamian goddess of healing and medicine - see Aquarius, Chapter 12) was asugallatu from the Sumerian a.zu.gal, which went through Asgelatas, an aspect of Apollo, to Asklepios, son of Apollo.
An ancient Babylonian constellation tablet lists Nutsirda ("Prince-of-the-Serpent"), called in Semitic Namassû, "Reptile." Nutsirda (aka An-u-giê, "Lord-of-the-Underworld") was connected to the god Sagimu, possibly the Lord of Invocation (the ideographs of his name express "mouth" and "invoke"); this asterism presided over dead bodies and disease. The archaic lunar zodiac of "The Tablet of the 30 Stars" from the Birs-Nimroud, which goes back at least 5,000 years, lists asterism XXV Kakkab Mulu-Bat ][ Pa-gar, a-sig: "The Asterism Man-of-Death | the corpse, the fever." made up of Epsilon and Zeta Ophiuchi (Yed Posterior, Han); The next asterism, XXVI, is Kakkab Tsîr ][ Ilu Nin-ki-gal: "The Asterism of the Snake | The Goddess Queen-of-the-Great-Region" made up of Eta, Xi, Theta Ophiuchi (Sabik, Wajrik, Kashud); Ninkigal ("The Unwearied"), its regent-divinity, was also called Nin-lil, "Queen of the Ghost-World" and Nin-gê, "Queen of the Underworld" (i.e. Scheôl-Hadês). Ninkigal is an eastern counterpart of Persephone, the Greek goddess-mistress of Hell.
Aesculapius learned the arts of healing from both Apollo and Cheiron, becoming so skilled in surgery and the use of healing herbs and potions that he was revered as the father of medicine. There is a story that credited him with saving the life of Glaucus, son of Minos: while attending the dying youth, Aesculapius killed a serpent as it approached the body, then watched astonished as another serpent, its mate, brought a magic herb which it laid on the dead serpent, restoring it to life; thus Aesculapius was given the knowledge of the herb to restore Glaucus to life. (Another story says that Athene gave Aesculapius two vials of blood from Medusa, one that took life, another that restored the dead). At any rate, Aesculapius' ability to rescue people from death made Hades furious; he complained bitterly to his brother Zeus that his subjects were being stolen from him; Aesculapius was accused of having been bribed with gold, and Zeus killed him with a thunderbolt. Later, however, Zeus restored him to life and his image, holding a curative serpent, was set in the stars. (See another version under Orion, Chapter 3.)
The great sky-figure of Ophiuchus holding, or wrestling with, a serpent, is also reminiscent of the story of Laocoön, a Trojan priest of Apollo, who tried to prevent the Trojans from bringing the wooden horse of the Greeks into the city. Laocoön had angered Apollo by marrying and begetting children despite a vow of celibacy, and worse still, lying with his wife in sight of the god's image. As Laocoön prepared the altar for an offering, Apollo sent two great sea serpents who crushed Laocoön and his sons to death (a famous sculpture of this event, created by three Rhodian sculptors of the 1st-century BCE, is in the Vatican; it shows Laocoön and his sons desperately trying to escape the coils of the serpents). The Trojans misread this terrible portent, thinking Laocoön was being punished for his hostility to the wooden horse. In China, the great outline of Ophiuchus, Serpens and some stars of Hercules were all part of T'ien-Chi "The Celestial Market" running from 18 Scorpio through all of Sagittarius and ending at about 20 Capricorn.
The Staff of Aesculapius, a staff entwined by a single serpent, was earlier a pictograph representing the eastern Great Goddess, protector of the household; in Crete she was portrayed with snakes held in her hands; a serpent on a pole was worshipped as a god of healing in Canaan and Philistia. The serpent-coiled Staff of Aesculapius is still the primary universal symbol of the medical profession (this is sometimes confused with the Staff of Hermes, a winged staff with two coiled serpents, which is now used to represent pharmacology).
Aratus: By [Hercules’] head mark the head of Ophiuchus, and then from it trace starlit Ophiuchus himself; brightly set beneath his head appear his gleaming shoulders; his hands both firmly clutch the Serpent which encircles the waist of Ophiuchus, who steadfast with his feet well set tramples on a huge monster, the Scorpion, standing upright. The Serpent is wreathed about his two hands - a little above his right hand, but in many folds high above his left; his knees are borne [on the Celestial Equator]. The rise of the Crab brings down from knee to shoulder wretched Ophiuchus and Ophis (Serpens) to the neck; at the coming of the Bow up rises the foremost coil of the star-bespangled Serpent and the body of Ophiuchus. Toward the Crown (Corona Borealis) leans the Serpent’s jaw, but beneath his coiling form seek thou the mighty Claws [of the Scorpion]. Ptolemy: [stars] in Ophiuchus [have the effect] of Saturn, and to some degree, Venus; those in his Serpent, of Saturn and Mars. Manilius: "One called Ophiuchus holds apart the serpent which with its mighty spirals and twisted body encircles his own, that so he may untie its knots and back that winds in loops. But bending its supple neck, the Serpent looks back [at Ophiuchus] and returns; and the other’s hands slide over the loosened coils. The struggle will last for ever, since they wage it on level terms with equal powers. When Ophiuchus, encircled by the Serpent’s great coils, rises, he renders the forms of snakes innocuous to those born under him. They will receive snakes into the folds of their flowing robes, and will exchange kisses with these poisonous monsters and suffer no harm." Note that Aratus, Manilius and the Farnese Globe (thought to be a copy of one belonging to 2nd-century BCE constellation authority Hipparchus) have the Serpent coiling around the body of Ophiuchus, which is not the way it is shown now; therefore a few stars, such as 30 Ophiuchi, should properly be attributed to Serpens).
Here's part of my Ophiuchus/Serpens star list (old positions - I was using 1980 then; for 2000, add 17 minutes, for 2006, add 21 mins)
The ones I've underlined are considered Ophiuchus stars, but I believe should be Serpens (or at least, Oph/Serp)
HD145206, SAO141001 Serpens Oph l hnd 0SA49 17 15 - 3 25 16 09 5.37 K4 III
Yed Prior Delta Oph; w/Epsilon, left hand/Serpent 2SA01 17 15 - 3 39 16 13 2.74 M1 III
Sigma Serpentis Serpent over Oph’s l arm 3SA08 22 14 1 05 16 21 4.82 F0 V
Yed Posterior Epsilon Ophiuchi left hand/Serpent 3SA14 16 27 - 4 39 16 17 3.24 G8 III
HD147550,SAO141129 Oph above left hand/Serpent 3SA52 19 12 - 2 02 16 22 6.23 B9
Marfik Lambda Ophiuchi left elbow 5SA19 23 34 21 06 16 30 3.82 A1 V
Psi Ophiuchi in Serpent-Bearer’s left leg 7SA16 1 33 -20 00 16 23 4.50 K0 III
12 Ophiuchi (should be Serpens) 7SA29 19 31 - 2 17 16 35 5.75 K0 V
Chi Ophiuchi in Serpent-Bearer’s left leg 7SA42 3 14 -18 25 16 26 4.42 B2 V
Rho Ophiuchi where left foot touches Scorpion 8SA09 - 1 45 -23 24 16 24 4.59 B2 V
M107 NGC6171 globular cluster Ophiuchus left leg 8SA10 8 46 -13 01 16 31 8.1 Gb
14 Ophiuchi chest; should be Serpens 8SA21 23 11 1 13 16 41 5.74 dF2
Phi Ophiuchi Serpent-Bearer’s left leg 8SA23 5 12 -16 34 16 30 4.28 G8 III
Rho Ophiuchi Nebula IC4604 bright neb "excessively large" 8SA39 - 4 48 -26 29 16 24 4.61 Nb
Han Zeta Ophiuchi Ophiuchus’ left knee 8SA57 11 24 -10 32 16 36 2.56 O9.5 V
Omega Ophiuchi in Serpent-Bearer’s l ft 9SA21 0 26 -21 25 16 31 4.45 A7 p
M12 NGC6218 Glob Clust Oph in chest 10SA17 20 16 - 1 55 16 46 6.6 Gb
Iota Ophiuchi w/Kappa, Oph’s left shoulder 10SA22 32 30 10 12 16 53 4.38 B8 IV
HD150416, SAO160046 Oph between legs 11SA01 4 26 -17 42 16 40 4.96 G8 II
Rho Ophiuchi Nebula, extended, dark cloud betw feet 11SA04 - 1 59 -24 04 16 37 ----- DN
NGC6240 Gxy Ophiuchus chest Black Hole? 11SA14 24 46 2 26 16 52 15p GX-BH?
Kappa Ophiuchi w/Iota, Oph’s left shoulder 11SA32 31 50 9 24 16 57 3.20 K2 III
20 Ophiuchi part of Serpens? betw thighs 12SA08 11 36 -10 45 16 49 4.65 F6 III
M10 NGC 6254 Globular Cluster Ophiuchus belly 13SA10 18 27 - 4 04 16 56 6.6 Gb
30 Ophiuchi Serpent-Bearer’s solar plexus/Serpens 14SA13 18 26 - 4 12 17 00 4.82 K4 III
NGC 6235 Glob Clust, Ophiuchus between feet 14SA20 0 22 -22 09 16 52 10.2 Gb
HD159358,SAO160653 Serpens near right thigh 14SA59 11 27 -11 13 17 00 5.55 B8 V
37 Ophiuchi between left shoulder, head 15SA41 33 27 10 37 17 12 5.60 K5 III
M19 Ophiuchi NGC6273 glob clust right foot 16SA51 - 3 28 -26 14 17 01 7.2 Gb
M62 Ophiuchi NGC6266 glob clust under foot 16SA56 - 7 20 -30 05 17 00 6.6 Gb
Sabik Eta Ophiuchi Serpent Bearer’s right knee 17SA41 7 12 -15 42 17 09 2.43 A2 V
V2107 X-Ray Nova, Oph under right foot Black Hole? 18SA00 -2 10 -25 03 17 03 ---- BH
Box Nebula NGC6309 Oph right thigh 18SA22 10 04 -12 54 17 13 11p Pl
HD156227, SAO141585 Ophiuchi rt hip 18SA29 16 47 - 6 13 17 16 6.09 K0
36 Ophiuchi in Serpent-Bearer’s right foot 19SA44 -3 33 -26 35 17 14 4.31 K0 V
HD156971, SAO160482 Serpentis 19SA53 12 25 -10 41 17 20 6.46 F0
M9 Oph NGC6333 globular cluster right leg 20SA01 4 35 -18 30 17 18 7.9 Gb
Nu Serpentis Serpent, near Oph’s right thigh 20SA01 10 16 -12 50 17 20 4.33 A1 V
Sigma Ophiuchi Serpent-Bearer’s right shoulder 20SA19 27 19 4 09 17 26 4.34 K3 II
Wajrik Xi Ophiuchi Serpent Bearer’s right leg 20SA38 2 01 -21 06 17 20 4.39 F2 V
HD157950, SAO141665 Ophiuchi right arm 20SA58 18 06 - 5 04 17 26 4.54 F3 V
Kashud Theta Ophiuchi in right foot 21SA07 - 1 50 -24 59 17 21 3.27 B2 IV
The Snake (Dark S Nebula) Oph in right foot 21SA22 - 0 27 -23 37 17 22 ----- DN