Head in the stars: the constellations of Hercules and the Dragon, on the road to the Sun

head in the stars

Summer isn’t just the season to look at your toes buried in the sand. This is also the best time to raise your head to contemplate the sky, with or without a telescope. “L’Obs” takes you through the universe to discover the stars and their mysteries.

On our way to discover the summer sky, west of Cygnus, Lyra and Cepheus, groups of not very bright stars form the constellations of Hercules and the Dragon. Hercules starts very close to Vega and draws what the ancients imagined as a kneeling man brandishing a club. Below him, we can see a string of stars that wind around the “carriage” of the Little Dipper: it is the Dragon. To locate them, the novice will prefer to arm himself with a map, or more precisely with one of those very good apps that allow you to see live what is happening above our heads.

The constellation of Hercules in an astronomical manuscript from around the year 1000, kept at the National Library of Wales and probably copied in the Limoges region.  (Wikimedia Commons)
The constellation of Hercules in an astronomical manuscript from around the year 1000, kept at the National Library of Wales and probably copied in the Limoges region. (Wikimedia Commons)

When they placed in the imaginary sky one of the most famous characters of their legends, the ancients could not do things by halves and dedicate to him only a tiny group of stars lost between more remarkable configurations. No wonder then that the constellation of Hercules takes up space in the sky and it is today h

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