Aries


Aries


English nameRam

Major
stars
alpha ArietisHamalmagn. 2,1RA: 02h 07m 10.37sDec: +23 27' 44.9"
beta ArietisSheratanmagn. 2,7RA: 01h 54m 38.39sDec: +20 48' 29.0"

DescriptionConstellation of the zodiac, through which the Sun transits from the end of April to the middle of May. Aries holds a certain importance among the constellations because it contained the spring equinox, that is the point in which the Sun crosses equator moving from south toward north (and this is the point zero of right ascension). Because of the precession of the equinoxes (determined by the millennial motions of the Earth), today the spring equinox is situated in the near constellation of Pisces: nevertheless it is still called Aries First Point.

Besides Hamal, a yellow giant, the most remarkable stars of the constellation are some doubles, observable with small telescopes: gamma, lambda and pi Arietis.


Mythology
and history
The constellation represents the winged ram whose golden fleece was the goal of the Argonauts expedition driven by Jason.

Eson was the legitimate king of Iolco, in Thessaly, but he was dethroned by his stepbrother Pelia. The son of Eson, Jason, vindicated the throne and Pelia promised that he would have given up to him if he had passed a trial: to appropriate the golden fleece. It was the fleece of the winged ram that conducted Frisso from Orcomeno, in Boeotia, to Colchis, on the Caucasus slopes. When he arrived to destination, Frisso sacrificed the animal to Zeus and gave its skin to Eeta, king of Colchis, who hung it in the Ares sacred wood, so that it was guarded by a monstrous never sleeping snake.

Jason gathered a group of young heroes together and took to the sea with a ship built by Argus (from whom the name of Argonauts). After an adventurous trip through the Bosporus and the Black Sea, Jason arrived in Colchis, where the daughter of Eeta, Medea, fell in love with him and offered to help him to steal the fleece. With her magic arts Medea bewitched the snake and make it sleep, allowing Jason to take the fleece of the winged ram, which therefore was brought to the temple of Zeus at Orcomeno.

Also the ship Argus was put in the sky. It is constituted by three separate constellations: Carina, Puppis, Vela.


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