Chariot A-Go-Goat


Auriga with chariot reins in one hand, goats in the other – created with Stellarium

I haven’t forgotten about our good friend Auriga, the Charioteer, who we met on Friday. He not only drives a chariot but carries the "little she-goat" Capella (kuh-PELL-luh) on his shoulder and her two kids with his other arm. Capella, the sixth brightest star in the sky, represents the goat Amaltheus, who suckled Zeus when he was an infant on the island of Crete. She was placed in the sky along with her kids, represented by the little trio of stars, out of gratitude for her services.

What isn’t explained is why Auriga is expected to carry goats all night long as he drives toward the western horizon. Was he just a good guy? Did he hope to get an "in" with Zeus? The books just aren’t clear on this.

The Milky Way runs through the bottom half of Auriga’s Pentagon. If you aim your binoculars here on a dark night, you’ll see several nice fuzzy knots of stars. These are star clusters similar to the Seven Sisters but ten times further away. 

Catch them before Auriga drives off for good. 

2 Responses

  1. gonul goktepe

    hello my birth day is 14 dec 1971 hour is 8:10 i am very interested in atronomy could you be so kind to fill me in with at least some of these heavenly events

    1. astrobob

      Gonul,
      On December 14, 1971, Venus was low in the west during evening twilight, Mars higher up in Pisces and pretty bright and Saturn not far from the Pleiades in Taurus. Mercury and Jupiter were too close to the sun to be visible. The moon was just a couple days from New Moon in the morning sky in twilight.

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