The summer constellation Hercules is named after the well-known mythological hero Herakles, whose name meant "Glory of Hera". The Romans later gave him the name of Hercules. With 1,225 square degrees, it is the fifth largest constellation in the night sky, yet it is not particularly noticeable, since only three of its stars are brighter than the magnitude 3.
How to spot Hercules
The constellation can be seen in the latitudes between 90° and -50°. It is best seen during the month of July. It is bordered to the north by the constellationDraco, to the east by the constellationsSagittaandAquilaand to the south by the head of Hydra. In the constellation not onlybinary stars, but also two of the brightestglobular clusterscan be recognized. It seems that Hercules is kneeing down, which is supposed to be due to a fight with a dragon.
The myth of Heracles, son of Zeus and wise Alcmene, is multifaceted and tragic. Once again, Hera was embittered by her husband's unfaithfulness and tried to kill the innocent baby by placing two poisonous snakes in his cradle. Thanks to the boundless strength, however, the infant managed to strangle its enemies. To protect his favorite son, Zeus wanted to give him immortality. So he managed to put the baby to Hera's breast during a nap - thanks to the divine milk, Herakles became immortal. Thus, he grew up under the hatred of his stepmother, who made herself the oath to make his life unbearable. Under Heras madness, he killed his own children. When Hera took the madness away from him, and Herakles became aware of his act, he sought out the oracle in Delphi to free himself from his guilt. This imposed him 12 years service of the king Eurysteus. Eurysteus, a close friend of Hera, then gave Herakles the known 12 seemingly unsolvable tasks, including the slaying of theLionof Nemea and theHydraof Lerna. To the astonishment of all enemies and acquaintances Herakles succeeded to accomplish the deeds. After the expiration of his service, he returned wistfully to his wife, who nevertheless could not forgive him the murder of their children. So Herakles wandered around the world lonely and continued to perform heroic deeds until he finally fell in love with the young Deianea and married her. On a journey they met the centaur Nessos, who tried to pass on the beautiful wife of Heracles. After Herakles killed him with an arrow poisoned by the Hydra's blood, Nessos lied to the innocent Deianea: He claimed that his blood would act as a love potion if one day she had doubts about her husband's affection. She followed his advice, picked up some blood and gave it Herakles a few months later to drink, who then suffered terrible pain because of the poisoned blood. When he finally could not stand it, Herakles burned himself alive. Zeus took his soul in mourning and set him in the sky.