Twin City Amateur Astronomers
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Serpent Bearer
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The constellation Ophiuchus is located in the summer skies south from Hercules to Scorpius. The split constellation Serpens is intertwined with Ophiuchus to the east and west. Ophiuchus is often associated with Aesculapius the son of Apollo who was entrusted to the Centaur Chiron who raised and tutored the boy in the art of healing and medicine. It is said that after Aesculapius killed a snake, another snake brought an herb the restored the first to life. Aesculapius captured the herb and then had the power to restore life. This annoyed Pluto, the god of the underworld, who appealed to Jupiter to destroy Aesculapius. Jupiter sent Aquila the Eagle to destroy Aesculapius with a lightning bolt, but immortalized him in the constellation Ophiuchus. Aesculapius’ association with the snakes and with healing are seen today in the caduceus, a staff with two intertwined snakes that is the symbol of the medical profession.