In the previous blog posting we discussed how many of the characters in the Harry Potter series have connections to ancient mythology and how these myths worked their way into the books’ story-lines. Numerous characters in the series also share their names with moons, asteroids, and stars. For this entry let’s look into two characters and the two stars they are named after: Sirius and Bellatrix.
The Black family tree is filled with astronomical names taken from both stars and constellations.
The most notable, Sirius Black, is Harry Potter’s godfather. Sirius is named after the brightest star in the night sky as well as the brightest star in its constellation, Canis Major. The constellation name, Canis Major, is Latin for “greater dog” and is one of two of Orion’s hunting dogs. This is why Sirius is known as the “dog star.” Telling enough, the character Sirius Black is known for his ability to transform into a black dog. In the series, his friends covertly named him “Padfoot” which is also a name North Englanders have for the magical black dogs that guard graveyards and can vanish quickly.
Speaking of Orion…
Orion is a prominent winter constellation representing a mythological hunter. In the Greek myth, Orion had angered the gods and was later killed by a great Scorpion after which the constellation Scorpius is named. He now appears in the sky next to his two hunting dogs, one of which contains the star Sirius. In the series, Sirius Black is Orion’s eldest son.
This brings us to Bellatrix Black Lestrange who takes her first name from one of the shoulder stars in the constellation of Orion. Bellatrix the star is 250 light-years away, 20 million years old, and 8.4 times the mass of our sun.
Scientists have searched the star for orbiting companions; however, they have found none. As far as we can tell, this massive star is alone out in space.
The name Bellatrix means female warrior. And she, as you might know, was one of Voldemort’s most faithful warriors.
As I stated in the last blog post, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum will be hosting The Astronomical World of Harry Potter this October 30th at 7 p.m. Admission for this show is free. Space is limited and offered on a first come, first served basis.
Everyone seeing the show will get their own Platform 100 3/4 ticket and there will be a quiz at the end for you to earn your own O.W.L. certificate. Come early for the butterbeer at our own Leaky Cauldron and stick around for the 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. showings of Fright Light and the return of Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon.
For more info visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/1058366590851351/
Stay tuned for Part 3 – Dumbledore and Fenrir