Looking Up: Nothing To Crow About

Apr 10, 2017

We'll drink to this constellation!
Credit Author: Till Credner / AlltheSky.com / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

This week on Looking Up Hal makes a toast at the Cup & Crow.

You’ve heard the expression, “I’ll drink to that!” but be careful with your toast, or you might end up stuck forever in the southern Colorado night sky, like the interesting constellation of Crater, the cup. [Crater isn’t a very big constellation, but it is interesting because of the lore surrounding it, and because of a couple of things in it.] 

Crater the Cup is supposed to be, well, a cup! In Greek legend, Corvus the Crow was ordered to deliver a cup of water to Apollo. When he got distracted by a ripening fig, Apollo became angry and threw Corvus and the innocent Cup up into the heavens for all time. Thus Corvus spends eternity chasing a cup that is forever out of reach. Sounds like a drinking problem to me.

In addition to the legend, this small constellation has several very pretty, if dim, galaxies, and a very special quasar about 6 billion lys from Earth. The black hole at the center of this quasar was the very first one where scientists were able to measure the black hole’s spin, which is pretty quick. So, next time you have a nice cup in your hand, keep looking up and drink a toast to the cup in the sky and the crow that never gets to take a drink!  

If you’d like to take a closer look at the Crater Constellation or any of the wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit CSASTRO.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties!