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The Cornucopia star: this week on The Night Sky


We all know that as a civic tradition, Thanksgiving originated as a way to show gratitude for the bounty that was shared with the early Europeans when they traveled to this strange new land~but did you know that the cornucopia, or horn of plenty that is used to decorate this season is actually connected to the stars, not just to national history?

The cornucopia star is Capella, the first magnitude star in the constellation Auriga.  You can find Capella high in the northeast about 8:30 each night this week, unmistakable because it’s the brightest star in that region of the sky.

And here’s the story: According to the Ancient Greeks, after the creation of the world, there were for major ages of mankind~the Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Iron Ages. 

The giant gods known as the Titans with their leader Kronus ruled during the Golden Age. This was a time of innocence and happiness~when no laws were needed to govern mankind because all beings lived in a state of grace, like it was always spring.

Then came the Silver Age, and the dominance of the Olympian gods, ruled over by Zeus. During the Silver Age the year was divided into seasons, and now human beings were forced to find shelter, domesticate animals, and farm the land. 

The transition from the Golden to the Silver Age was storied about as Zeus taking over leadership from his father, Kronos. Kronos knew that his children would conquer him, so he intended to devour them when they were born. But Rhea, their mother, hid the infant Zeus in a cave in the region of Mount Ida on the island of Crete.

Here Zeus was protected by many divine attendants,

Peter Paul Rubens c. 1630 painting shows the infant Zeus with Amalthea, the Nourishing Goat Goddess, bearing the cornucopia or Horn of Plenty on her lap.

 including the Goat Ah MAL’thea, the Nourishing Goddess. While playing, Zeus broke off the goat goddess’ horn of plenty, and it was transferred to the heavens as the star Capella, the cornucopia, which becomes filled with whatever nourishment its owner desires.

May Capella bring abundance, grace, and gratitude to you at Thanksgiving, and to all those who are most in need throughout the season.