STAR LORE
 

STORIES FROM THE STARS
 
 

Pavo the Peacock
 
 
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

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