Pasachoff, Jay M. Hopkins Observatory, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts.
Last reviewed:October 2019
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The Water Bearer, in Greek mythology, is a zodiacal constellation, meaning that the path of the Sun and planets passes through it. (The Sun actually passes through 13 of the modern constellations each year, not the traditional 12.) It is almost entirely south of the celestial equator; none of its stars is especially bright (see illustration). Early constellation drawings show Aquarius as a man or boy pouring water from a bucket. The stream of water is oriented so as to flow into Piscis Austrinus, the constellation of the Southern Fish, pointing at the bright star Fomalhaut, which can be taken to correspond to the mouth of the fish. The constellation may have gotten its name from the Sun's position in it during the often-rainy month of February, which often led to floods in Babylonia and Egypt. The modern boundaries of the 88 constellations, including this one, were defined by the International Astronomical Union in 1928. See also: Constellation; Zodiac
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