Appearing in the southern sky, the constellation Capricorn is among the least visible among the other zodiac constellations.
The Sea of Water
The constellation Capricorn is in what is referred to by astronomers as "The Sea of Water". The reason for this name is that this particular area in the sky is home to many water signs of the zodiac such as Pisces and Scorpio. Here are some other Capricorn constellations tidbits you may not already know:
- Neptune is in the constellation Capricorn.
- The best time to get a good look at Capricorn is around four in the morning during the month of September.
- Capricorn was considered the "Gate of the Gods" in ancient Greek and Roman times.
- Capricorn depicts a goat-fish or sea-goat.
- Some Asian cultures refer to Capricorn as the "Southern Gate of the Sun".
- It is one of the earliest named constellations in the sky.
- Neptune is expected to pass through Capricorn and move on to Aquarius in the year 2011.
Finding the Constellation Capricorn
Given that this constellation is very faint, it may take some time to find Capricorn in the sky. The easiest way is to look toward the southern sky, keeping your eyes low on the horizon line until you find stars in the shape of a triangle. As mentioned above, the best time to view Capricorn is in September, with the optimal time period being the last week of the month.
Galaxies in Capricorn
While not as densely packed as some of the other constellations, Capricorn does contain one large globular cluster called Messier 30 or M30 for short. A globular cluster is a super dense grouping of stars. These stars stay in one dense group as a result of them feeding off of each other's gravitational pulls. Capricorn is also home to a few binary stars.
Myths Associated with Capricorn
There are many ancient legends and myths associated with the constellation Capricorn. Below are a few of these popular myths.
The goddess Rhea fled with her son Zeus when he was a baby because she feared Zeus' father, Kronos, would murder the child. She hid on Mount Ida and asked the goat Amalthea to watch over and care for Zeus. Eventually, Zeus grew up and won the War of the Titans, overthrew his father Kronos and took his place as the ruler of the gods. The constellation Capricorn is said to be an homage from Zeus to his caretaker Amalthea.
The Greek god Pan, a satyr (half goat and half man), was being chased by Typhon, the god of wind and Gaia's last son. In an effort to escape Typhon, Pan jumped into the river Nile. When he did this, the parts of his body that weren't touching the water remained the same while the parts that were in the water turned into a fish. Hence the name goat-fish or sea-goat. Capricorn is said to depict this picture of Pan. Some say Pan was not a god, but was a demigod, which is why he is the only Greek god to have died.
In this Babylonian myth, Capricorn depicts the ancient god Ea. Ea had the upper body of a human and the lower body of a fish. Ea lived in the ocean at night, but during the day he would leave his watery home to watch over the earth. This ancient myth is said to be older than the Greek myths of Pan and Amalthea.
There are a number of other myths associated with Capricorn, but most of them follow along the same lines as Almathea, Pan and Ea. Regardless of what myth or story you believe about how the constellation Capricorn came about, if you're a star gazer, this is a great one to add to your list, especially if your goal is to see all the constellations of the zodiac.