STAR LORE
 

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Lepus the Hare
 
 
Lepus is a small constellation, overshadowed by the giant Orion standing over him and Canis Major chasing him, but he has an interesting connection to the sky for April.  One myth says that the Hare was once a bird but was changed by Ostara, the Goddess of Spring (from whom we derive the name for Easter).  The Hare was allowed to keep it's swiftness so it could still escape those who hunted him.  Once a year the Hare is allowed to lay eggs in rememberance of it's earlier form - and so today the Easter bunny still brings eggs to the ancient festival.


An excerpt from Johan van Keulen's Boeck zee-kaardt, 1709.
Lepus crouches under the feet of Orion.

The Hare also has a long connection to the moon.  The Aztecs, the Chinese, Hindus and cultures from Japan, the Euphrates region and South Africa have all associated the Hare with the Moon.  It is easy to see where this may have come from - just take a look at the moon at First Quarter.  The two ears are formed by Mare Fecundatitis and Mare Nectaris, the head is Mare Tranquilitatis. 

Alpha (a) Leporis is also known as Arneb, which simply means "the Hare."  It is a corruption of the the Arabic name for Lepus, Al Arnab.



This article is ©2001 Stargazers Astronomy Shop

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