The Celestial Royal Family
Despite her vanity, this queen sits in the heavens year round
Although the start of autumn was last week, the equinox is no switch that instantly changes our weather from hot to mild. So it is with the constellations, where those of summer slowly give way to those of fall and winter.
As darkness settles, the first-magnitude star Deneb of the constellation Cygnus the swan shines directly overhead. Deneb is the last of the three stars in the Summer Triangle to hold this spot at the sky’s zenith. Already, Vega of Lyra and Altair of Aquilla have shifted westward.
While the stars of summer wane, the autumn constellations of Andromeda, Perseus and Pegasus climb high overhead. Joined by the year-round constellations of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, these five constellations make up one of the most storied tales in the heavens.
According to Greek mythology, King Cepheus and his beautiful queen, Cassiopeia, ruled ancient Ethiopia. Cassiopeia’s beauty was matched only by her vanity, leading her to claim herself fairest in all the the world, even more beautiful than the lovely sea nymphs, daughters of Poseidon.
Angered by this boast, Poseidon unleashed a ferocious sea monster to ravage the coast. To try to appease the vengeful god, Cepheus chained his beautiful daughter Andromeda to an ocean cliff to be devoured by the monster.
Flying over the scene on the winged horse Pegasus, the hero Perseus, was drawn by the maiden’s beauty and killed the monster, saving the kingdom and winning Andromeda’s hand in marriage. Over time, the royal family won their spots in the heavens, even the brash Cassiopeia, although in a victory by the sea nymphs, the queen was to spend half the year positioned upside-down.
Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.