The Brighter Stars of Serpens
The Serpent HandlerThe Serpent is held by Ophiuchus, the Serpent Wrestler. Ophiuchus is the God of Health and Healing, Asclepius, who was the son of Apollo. The association probably arises from the connection with the serpent. Because the serpent sheds its skin each year, the serpent became a symbol of rebirth.
The Serpent's SecretAsclepius acquired the secret of rebirth from the serpent. He accidentally crushed a serpent with his foot. A second serpent appeared, bearing an herb its mouth, which it gave to the dead serpent. The dead serpent revived. Asclepius took a bit of the serpent's herb and through this acquired the secret of rebirth.
Since the Olympian gods generally in myth had the power over life and death, you do have to wonder why the god Asclepius had to get the secret of life and death from a serpent!
Distance (Light Years) 73.2 ± 1.2
Visual Magnitude 2.63
Color (B-V) 1.17
Names For This Star
Other names for this star are Unuk al Hay, Unuk Elhaia, Unuk, or Unukalhay. These names derive from the Arabic 'Unk al Hayyah, "The Neck of the Snake." Unukalhai is also known by the Latin name Cor Serpentis, "The Heart of the Serpent."
Description of the Star
Unukalhai is an orange K2IIIbCN1 giant star having about 38 times the luminosity of the sun.