Print this page

Symbols - What does heaven look like

Coeus

 

Coeus the Titan was the personification of the system which turns the earth on its axis around the two pole stars. 

The Greeks believed that the system which rotates the earth was similar to the system that turns the galaxy.  They also likened the system to a spinning top with the two ‘rods’ connected to the two pole stars.

The north celestial pole is located very close to the North Star (Polaris), so, from the northern hemisphere all circumpolar stars appear to rotate around Polaris. Polaris itself remains almost stationary, always at the north (i.e., the azimuth is 0°), and always at the same altitude (angle from the horizon), equal to the latitude of the point of observation on Earth.

The Greeks did not know physically of the southern pole star but believed it to exist.  The star nearest to this imaginary point is Sigma Octantis, whose angular separation from the pole was about 1° (as of 2000). It is  very faint and as such it is not very useful for general navigational purposes.

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.