Vela

The Sail

Vela Constellation

The Brighter Stars of Vela

The Story

The Good Ship Argo

Vela is the Sail of the Ship Argo, which was once represented in the sky by the very large constellation Argo Navis. On his sky chart published in 1763 Abbe Nicholas Louis de Lacaille divided Argo Navis into the three separate constellations of Carina, Puppis, and Vela representing the Keel, Stern, and Sail of the Argo.

Jason and His Crew

Jason and the fifty greatest heroes of Greece sailed the Argo off into the Black Sea of Asia to recover the fabulous Golden Fleece. The twins Castor and Polydeuces (Pollux) were part of the crew, along with Argus, the builder of the ship. Hercules was also part of the crew, and Orpheus, the great musician as well.

Building the Ship

The ship was built with timbers from Mount Pelion to the design of the goddess Athene, known for her wisdom. The bow of the ship was built around a wondrous oak beam from the Temple of Zeus at Dodona, where there was a well known oracle who spoke the words of Zeus. Being part of the oracle, the oak could speak itself. And while the voyage was being prepared the oak beam in the prow of the Argo could be heard continually calling for action.

A View From the Stern

Only the rear of the Argo is shown in the sky. Perhaps we are seeing the ship sail off into the mist or disappear between the Clashing Rocks at the entrance to the Black Sea.  
 


Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University,St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

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