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Constellation Draco

Updated on September 16, 2014

The Constellation Draco

Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin for dragon. Draco is circumpolar (never setting) for many observers in the northern hemisphere. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations today.

Public domain photo courtesy snpj.org

Draco can be viewed by looking to the far northern sky

Public domain photo courtesy snpj.org

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History and Mythology

Draco is among the earliest of the constellations to have been defined; in one of the oldest known astronomical records, the ancient Egyptians identified it as Tawaret, the goddess of the northern sky in their pantheon of deities. Considered ever-vigilant because the constellation never set, she was depicted a fierce protective goddess whose body was a composite of crocodile, human, lioness, and hippopotamus parts.

The Greeks named it Draco the dragon. In one of the more famous European myths, Draco represents Ladon, the dragon sometimes depicted with one hundred heads who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides. The eleventh of the Twelve Labours of Heracles was to steal the golden apples. He put Ladon to sleep with music, which enabled Heracles to freely take the golden apples. According to the legend, Hera later placed the dragon in the sky as the constellation Draco. Due to its position and nearby constellations in the zodiac sign of Libra (i.e. Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, and Boötes), the group of constellations can be seen to tell the tale of the eleventh labour.

In another Greek legend, Draco represents the dragon killed by Cadmus before founding the city of Thebes, Greece. In a third legend, it represents the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece (occasionally revealed as the sleeping or nearly dead figure of Ladon) and was killed by Jason. The fact that the stars of this circumpolar constellation never set plays an important part in its mythologies.

In Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva and tossed into the sky upon his defeat.

Early Christians originally of the Roman or Greek faith then depicted Draco as the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

Author J.K. Rowling named the character Draco Malfoy after the constellation in her Harry Potter series of books.

Draco Informational Video

Have Thoughts on Draco? - Feel free to comment here. Thanks for visiting!

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      jaideepsingh-minhas 3 years ago

      i love draco the dragon which depict MY FAV BEYBLADE METEO L DRAGO LW105LF AND LIGHTINING L DRAGO 100HF AND L DRAGO DESTROY F;S

    • Loretta L profile image

      Loretta Livingstone 5 years ago from Chilterns, UK.

      I bought a couple of star charts, but I'm not very good at picking out the constellations. Nice lens though. I wish I was as knowledgeable.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

      I love watching the sky at night. It really makes you feel small to see so much greatness around you. I will have to watch for Draco the dragon. Your lenses are teaching me a lot today.

    • JeffreyTymczak LM profile image

      JeffreyTymczak LM 7 years ago

      Great Job!!!

      Jeff

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      yhabe30 7 years ago

      Awesome lens!

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      Seeking Pearls 8 years ago from Pueblo West

      I really enjoyed this lens-the video is really interesting.

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