Thursday, November 6, 2014

Heavenly Folklore

Milky Way Myths

The Milky Way is not always easy to see, and not always easy to explain – at least not scientifically. This light band of stars, planets, comets, nebulas, and more makes up the galaxy that contains our solar system. The term “milky” comes from the look of the glowing band of stars in the night sky viewed by the naked eye alone. Legends about the Milky Way exist in all cultures. Deciphering these heavenly legends can provide cultural perspectives that are rich in meaning.

Greek Milky Way
The god Zeus brought Hercules to his wife Hera when she was asleep to be suckled. However, Hera did not claim Hercules, because he was not her child and legend has it that she moved the baby away from her breast when she awoke. This resulted in spilled milk, which Greek mythology attributes to the appearance of the Milky Way in the sky. 

Finland Milky Way
Finland legend has it that the world was created from a waterfowl’s egg that burst. The sky is believed to be the shell and the band of light that stretched across the sky is the path designed to help birds find their way to Linukoto, a region of warmer temperatures.

Armenian Milky Way
Armenian legend noes that the god Vahagn took carts of straw from Barsham, who was the Assyrian King. He had to flee quickly with the stolen straw across the heavens and the led to some straw dropping, which created the dim light in the sky. 

Chinese Milky Way
Chinese legend refers to the Milky Way as “Silver River.” This legend involves the Queen Mother drawing a “Silver River” in the sky to keep her goddess daughter separate from the Buffalo boy that was determined to pursue her. This river – a dim band of light across the sky - to keep them separate.

Harvards' Computers (Women Astronomers) helped to chart these celestial bodies.  To read the report, subscribe to our free e-bulletin.  
Want to learn more about this magnificent galaxy?

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