|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.
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