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Star Lore of the Constellations:  Cassiopeia - The Seated Queen - by Deborah Houlding

Notable stars in Cassiopeia: Epoch 2000
Longitude Name Nature Mag. Position Lat. Dec.
05 Tau 07 Caph Saturn Venus 2.3 Queen's elbow 51N 59N
07 Tau 47 Schedar Saturn Venus 2.2 Breast 47N 57N
13 Tau 56 Cih Saturn Venus 2.2 Queen's girdle 49N 61N
17 Tau 56 Rucha Saturn Venus 2.8 Queen's knee 47N 61N
24 Tau 46 Segin Saturn Venus 3.4 Right knee 48N 60N

Queen Cassiopeia, mother of Andromeda, is remembered in myth for her arrogant boast concerning her daughter's beauty. The consequence of her pride was that her kingdom was flooded on the orders of the gods and the sacrifice of Andromeda demanded. Vain Cassiopeia's punishment was to be immortalised in the heavens bound to her throne - encircling the Pole head downwards as a lesson in humility.

From Cassiope come the enhancement of beauty and devices for adorning the body... [1]

- says Manilius, who, with greed and vanity in mind, associates this constellation with gold, jewels and the treasures of the earth:

What products would a grand lady like Cassiope prefer her sons to handle rather than those she could turn to her own employments?

As well as the goldsmith and the jeweller, the constellation also influences those who:

look for gold beneath the ground, uproot all which nature stealthily conceals, and turn earth upside down in search of gain.

This includes men who smelt, weigh, or trade in precious metals, and those who are involved in the exchange of "coinage of the one metal into wares of the other". [2]

Firmicus adds to this that men born when it is rising will be:

goldsmiths, makers of jewellery, plasterers, or pearl-setters, carrying on all these arts with talent and skill. From their art they will earn a large income. But if this star is found in its setting, the natives will perish from falling ruins or from sickness.[3]

A distinguishing feature of Cassiopeia is the easily observed celestial 'W', formed by the shape of its five brightest stars. Schedar (or Schedir), the brightest of them all, is a 2nd magnitude star, rose pink in colour and situated in the breast of the figure, perhaps in order to highlight the theme of royal motherhood. The other four stars of the W are Caph, Cih, Rucha and Segin. Ptolemy appears to support the mythological characteristics of the constellation - beauty spoilt by vanity and greed, and a mother's pride falling to humility - in listing its stars as like Saturn and Venus in influence. [4]

Cassiopeia is one of the easiest constellations for northern astrologers to identify, and many other constellations are found by reference to it. Apart from its distinctive shape, it is one of the four circumpolar constellations that remain visible throughout the year (the others are Ursa Minor, Cepheus and Draco). It lies close to the north pole, appearing like a W in spring and an M in Autumn. (The following instructions are for observers in the northern hemisphere).

To locate Cassiopeia, face towards the north. (The position of sunrise should be on your right and the position of sunset on your left, then you will be facing northwards and roughly aligned with the east on your right and west on your left). Cassiopeia is close to Polaris of Ursa Minor, the 'north star' which marks the northern pole. The constellations appear to wheel around this star, so depending upon the time of year, Cassiopeia will appear as shown in the diagrams below.

Cassiopeia in Spring

Cassiopeia in Summer

Cassiopeia in Aurumn

Cassiopeia in Winter

The Sun crosses Caph around 26th April, Schedar around 28th April, Cih around 5th May, Rucha around 8th May and Segin around 15th May each year.

Notes & References:
  1 ] Manilius, Astronomica, (c.10 AD), translated by G.P. Goold, (Harvard Heinemann, Loeb Classical Library, London, 1976), 5.504ff.
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  2 ] Ibid.
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  3 ] Firmicus, Matheseos Libri VIII, 4th century, VIII.XVI.3
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  4 ] Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos (1st cent. AD) published by Harvard Heinemann, Loeb classical library; I.9.
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© Deborah Houlding. First published in The Traditional Astrologer Magazine, issue 9; Summer 1995. Published online December 2006.

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