Riding the wave

Scorpio (The Scorpion)

Scorpio is connected to the myth of Orion, just as Cancer to that of Hercules. Orion was a hunter of huge proportions, perhaps the son of Poseidon and Euryale, or perhaps - according to some mythographers - the son of Gaia (the Earth), as were most of the Giants. He was handsome, strong and could walk on water, like Poseidon.


One day he was called by Enopione, king of Chios, to free the island from its wild beasts, and there he fell in love with Merope, the King's daughter. Rejected by her, he perhaps tried to molest her, and therefore was blinded by Enopione while sleeping on the beach . He thus went into Hephaestus' forge, and there he put a child on his own shoulders, to be led to Aurora who restored him sight. At the same time, she fell in love with him and kidnapped him, leading him to Delos, but there Orion fell in love with Artemis or perhaps with one of her maids. Anyhow, he tried to take either of them by violence, and Aurora punished him by setting a huge scorpion on him. Orion, bitten in the heel, died and was accepted in heaven as a constellation. So was the scorpion, whom Artemis wanted to immortalize as a sign of gratitude. Even in the heavens Orion goes on fleeing from Scorpio, which follows him; because they are at opposite sides, when Scorpius rises in the East to attack, Orion flees westward to disappear.

At our latitudes Scorpio is very low on the horizon, against the background of the Milky Way. The three western stars outline the animal's head, Antares - the main star - corresponds to its heart, while the eastern stars draw its curved tail with the poisonous sting.

The constellation occupies 497 sq. degrees, and the sun crosses it during the last week of November. It is most visible between April - when the Scorpion is in the meridian at sunrise - and July, at dusk.