Constellation Auriga

 

The constellation of Charioteer covers an area of 657 square degrees in the northern hemisphere. Its main star, Capella, is the third brightest star in the North at 0.1 mag. The Latin name "Auriga" describes the charioteer of the antique racing car Quadriga.

How to spot Auriga

The constellation of Auriga is located east of Taurus. With β Tauri, the stars form an almost uniform hexagon. In the north it is bordered by the Giraffe, in the south by Gemini and in the west by the Lynx. It's best to watch in winter.

Mythology

For the mythological origin of the constellation, there are different narratives.

The Romans recognized in the constellation Erichthonios, the paralyzed son of the God Vulcan. The Goddess Minerva taught him how to handle horses at a young age, so that he quickly became an outstanding charioteer and was finally put in the starry sky for his success.

In Greece, however, it was Myrtilos, the person responsible for the racers of King Oinomaos. Oinomaos ran with each man who wanted to marry his daughter Hippodameia a race. If they lost, he was beheaded in front of everyone. Since Oinomaos drove the fastest racer of the entire empire thanks to Myrtilos, Hippodameia lost the hope to marry one day. After some years, however, she met the beautiful Pelops, fell madly in love with him and decided to manipulate the race with the help of Myrtilos. Knowing that Myrtilos was in love with her, she promised him the wedding night if he helped her. He happily embarked on the trade, loosening the screws of the King's racer, and so the mischief took its course: Oinomaos had a fatal accident, and Pelops lured Myrtilos onto a rock to push him down and let him drown.

Interesting Facts

Already in Babylonia the constellation was known as "Rukubi", which meant "car". Later it was included by Ptolemy in his description of the 48 constellations of antiquity. At that time it was even larger than it is today, because before the invention of the telescope the astronomers could not yet recognize the constellations Giraffe and Lynx, so they assign some of their stars to Auriga.