skip to content

home about CACN about crich parish council search

crich area community news

Crich village cross

Stars in your eyes - LYRA

star map of Gemini

Looking East on the 20th April 2009 at 10.00 p.m.
The constellation Lyra

The constellation Lyra contains a very bright star called Vega. Vega is also called Falling Eagle or The Harp Star. It is only the fifth brightest star, but it dominates the summer skies in the northern hemisphere. About 12,000 years ago Vega served as the Pole Star, and it will do so again in another 12,000 years!
Lyra is another name for the musical instrument called the lyre, one of the most ancient of musical instruments. Evidence has been found that in the royal city of Ur (about 3000 BC) musicians played the lyre for royalty.
In Greek mythology, the lyre was invented by Hermes, who, as a child, pulled a cow-gut across a tortoise shell, and thereby created the lyre. Hermes gave this lyre to his half-brother Apollo (both were fathered by Zeus). And, as the god of music, Apollo thereafter became associated with the instrument.
As a child Orpheus was given the instrument by Apollo, and the Muses taught him to use it to make the most beautiful of music. Eventually Orpheus took a wife, the young and beautiful Eurydice. But soon after the marriage she was bitten by a serpent and died, and was transported to the Underworld. Orpheus then entered Hades, playing the lyre as he went, to beg for her return. Pluto and all the other ruling spirits were so enchanted by Orpheus� music that they agreed to restore life to Eurydice � but only on one condition � that as Orpheus left Hades he would not look back to see if his wife were following him. As he left Hades, he could not understand why he had not heard footsteps behind him if his wife really were there. Breaking his vow, he looked back. He saw Eurydice, but she rapidly faded away into the mists of Hades. Now she was lost to him forever, for once reborn, a departed soul cannot be reborn a second time.
Utterly sad and lonely, Orpheus spent the rest of his days roaming over the land playing sweet but sad music to himself in memory of his dear wife. So sweet was the music that maidens from far and wide came to him and pleaded that he forget his sorrows and marry one of them. But he would not.
Their pride crushed, the young maidens vowed to kill Orpheus since they could not have him for their own. They tore him apart limb from limb and threw his remains and lyre into the river. However, Zeus was so enchanted by the sweet music of Orpheus, that he rewarded him by making his music immortal by raising his lyre into the skies for all eternity.
The ancient peoples of Britain called Lyra �the Harp of King Arthur�.
Thanks to our resident astronomer JG