Clarens Night Skies: Ophiuchus – The Snakeholder

Snakeholder

The Ophiuchus Constellation, also known as “The Snakeholder”, lies on the celestial equator and is depicted as a man holding an enormous snake with both hands. The snake is represented by the adjacent constellation Serpes, with Ophiuchus splitting the Serpes constellation into two parts.

About Ophiuchus

Often times referred to in its Latin name “Serpentarius”, the constellation is associated with Aesclupaius, the famous healer in Greek mythology.

Clarens Night Sky The Snakeholder

“The Serpent” represented by the Serpes constellation, is divided into two separate parts by Ophiuchus. Serpens Caput forms the head of the snake whilst Serpens Cauda forms the tail. The snake is usually depicted coiling around the Ophiuchus man.

The Serpent Holder, Ophiuchus, is associated with the noted Greek healer Aescupalius.

In Greek legend, Coronis bed with the god Apollo and eventually fell pregnant. However, her love for a mere mortal, Ischys, could not be ignored.  A white crow was instructed by Apollo to keep watch over Coronis, and upon the news of her infidelity, Apollo commanded the crow to pick out they eyes of Ischys after which the crow was turned black. Appollo’s huntress sister Artemis was so appaled by Coronis’s actions, that she shot Cornonis with a quiverful arrows.

Appollo managed to save his unborn son Aesculapius after which he took him to the centaur Chorin. Known for his kindness and extreme wisdom, Chorin taught Aesculapius the art of medicine and healing. The young man mastered the art so completely that Hades, king of the underworld felt threatened. Hades thought that Aesculapius might grow to raise the dead, and therefore appealed the death of Aesculapius to Zeus. The great god Zeus regrettably agreed to the death of the young master healer, and so Aesculapius was struck down by lightning and given an honourable place in the skies. To this day, Aesculapius and the serpent are associated with healing, and all physicians take the Hippocratic oath (Hippocrates supposedly being a descendant of Aesculapius).

Did You Know

Ophiuchus is actually the 13th Zodiac sign.

It is not included in the Zodiac, as we know it, due to the fact that astronomer’s previousy thought that the Sun proceeds directly from Scorpius into Saggitarius. This is not the fact however. It was found that the Sun moves over the Ophiuchus constellation from Scorpius for 19 days, before it crosses into the region of Saggitarius. Thus, the sign of OPhiuchus is patterned after the original ‘Serpent holder’, Enki, a sumarian god.

The Zodiac sign of Ophiuchus is the only sign depicting a real man.

How to find Ophiuchus

It is located in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ3) and can be seen at latitudes between +80° and -80°.

The neighboring constellations are  Aquila, Hercules, Libra, Sagittarius, Scorpius and Serpens.

Ophiuchus also has seven stars with known planets.

The brightest star in the constellation is Rasalhague, Alpha Ophiuchi, with an apparent visual magnitude of 2.08.

There are four meteor showers associated with the constellation: the Ophiuchids, the Northern May Ophiuchids, the Southern May Ophiuchids and the Theta Ophiuchids.

Ophiuchus belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, along with Aquila, Ara, Centaurus, Corona Australis, Corvus, Crater, Crux, Cygnus, Hercules, Hydra, Lupus, Lyra, Sagitta,

 

Clarens Night Sky The Snakeholder

Scutum, Sextans, Serpens, Triangulum Australe and Vulpecula.

 

Genevieve Blignaut

Article and research by

Genevieve Blignaut

Clarens News: 2014