|Pavo was placed in the southern sky by
Johann Bayer in 1603 and flies with three other celestial birds around
the south pole: Grus the Crane, Apus the Bird of Paradise and Toucana the
Toucan. While not an ancient constellation Pavo does have a link
with Greek mythology. The peacock was the sacred bird of Hera, the
jealous wife of Zeus. After yet another of Zeus's wanderings Hera
sent Argus the one hundred eyed demon to watch over Io, who Hera suspected
was carrying Zeus's child. Upon learning of this, Zeus sent Hermes
to rescue Io. After he lulled the demon to sleep by playing his lyre,
Hermes struck of the head of Argus and freed Io. Hera, upset by the
loss of Argus, placed his hundred eyes on the peacock's tail where they
can still be seen today.
The brightest star is alpha (a)
Pavonis, which shines at mag. 1.9. Occasionally it is marked on charts
as "Peacock" but no classical names are known.
An excerpt from Johan van
Keulen's Boeck zee-kaardt, 1709.
The peacock lies to the
south of Sagittarius,
next to Indus the Indian.
This article is ©2002
Stargazers Astronomy Shop