vendredi 12 septembre 2008



One of the most recognizable constellations of the northern summer and autumn, it resembles a swan flying south along the Milky Way. Albireo, a double star with blue and yellow components is at the "head". Deneb, its brightest star, is at the tail and is one star of the summer triangle.

The constellation bears a resemblance to a wide winged, long necked bird, in graceful flight. In Greek mythology, the constellation represents several different legendary swans. Zeus disguised himself as a swan to seduce Leda, who gave birth to the Gemini, Helen of Troy, and Clytemnestra.
Orpheus was transformed into a swan after his murder, and was said to have been placed in the sky next to his lyre (Lyra).
Finally, it is said that a king named Cycnus was a relative or lover of the ill-fated Phaëthon. The son of Apollo, Phaethon tricked his father into allowing him to ride the chariot of the Sun, but lost control and was struck down by Zeus. Grief-stricken after Phaëthon's death, and determined to give his remains a proper burial, Cycnus dove to the bottom of the river Eridanus to find him. He dove so many times into the river that he was transformed into the swan Cygnus, and is visible in the sky today.
Cygnus, together with other constellations in the Zodiac sign of Sagittarius (specifically Lyra and Aquila, together with Sagittarius itself), may be a significant part of the origin of the myth of the Stymphalian Birds, one of The Twelve Labours of Heracles.
In Chinese mythology, the constellation Cygnus is the site of the once-a-year magpie bridge (鹊桥, Que Qiao) which connects the lovers Niu Lang and Zhi Nu (see Qi Xi).
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, there are three people named Cygnus, all of whom are transformed into swans. The first is the relative of Phaethon mentioned above, who is the son of Sthenelus and king of Liguria. The second is a boy from Tempe, to whom Phyllius gives several tamed animals as gifts. When Phyllius refuses to give Cygnus a tamed bull that the boy demands, Cygnus throws himself off a cliff in a fit of spite. Instead of falling to his death, Cygnus is transformed into a swan and flies away. The third person named Cygnus is a son of Neptune. He is a warrior in the Trojan War who is invulnerable to all stabbing weapons, much to the frustration of his enemy, Achilles. Achilles finally kills him by smashing his face in with his shield, but Neptune saves Cygnus by transforming him into a swan.

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