Lore of the Constellations: Lyra the Harp

Hello and welcome to another installment of the show that delves into the Lore of the Constellations.  If you’re up to date with this series then you are aware we’re in the season of Summer.  And with Summer we can find the appropriately named Summer Triangle asterism.  At each point of this triangle is a bright star within its own respective constellation.

For this video (click on the link above), we’re going to cover the bright star Vega which can also be found in the constellation Lyra the Harp.

Let me regale you with a story of why we can find a harp in our sky as well as some other hidden details it may hide.

First off, the name Lyra is Latin for lyre, a type of ancient instrument similar to a harp.

That being said, this instrument is associated with Greek mythology and based around a character named Orpheus, a famed musician with such extraordinary talent that he was even able to charm nature itself with his music.

Well, Orpheus married the beautiful Eurydice and had a wonderful marriage until one day she was bitten by a poisonous snake and died from her injury.

Orpheus was devastated.  He decided to descend into the underworld to find her and bring her back home.

Once there, Orpheus charmed the gods of the underworld with his music.  They granted him his wish to reunite with his wife but only under one condition:  Orpheus was not allowed to look at Eurydice until they had left the underworld.  Unfortunately, Orpheus was unable to restrain himself and looked back to the following Eurydice before they had reached Earth.  Because of this, she descended back down into the Underworld.  Heartbroken, Orpheus took his own life to become reunited with his wife.

Upon his death, Zeus took this lyre and placed it into the sky where it remains to this day.

You can find Lyra high in the sky—almost directly overhead—with its brightest star Vega.

Vega is located 25 light-years away from Earth and blue-ish white since it is so bright.  It’s about 450 million years old which makes it very young in astronomical terms.

Since the Earth wobbles on its axis, in about 12,000 years Vega will be our new North star.

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