The Mythology Behind The Aquarius Constellation Explained

In ancient Greek times, the vast majority of people didn't know the reason behind things like the seasons, the weather, and other aspects of their lives, including the reasons for the actions of the sun and the moon, per World History. While there were scientific minds in the community, myth became a common explanation. The sun moved in the sky because it was actually a chariot pulled by horses across the heavens. A drought? You didn't do a sufficient sacrifice to the goddess of the grains. There was a deity and a subsequent story behind why that particular god behaved as they did. The cast of these gods was a wide-ranging one, from the speedy Hermes and diligent Hephaestus to the beautiful Aphrodite and lightning-slinging Zeus.

These tales helped the ancient Greeks make sense of their day-to-day life, as well as things that fall from the sky. A particular myth explains how the Earth gets rain, and the mortal who became the god behind it is immortalized in the night sky.

Aquarius in the Northern Hemisphere

Per Heavens Above, the myth begins with Zeus spotting Ganymede, who was a prince of Troy. He thought he would do an excellent job as a cup-bearer. There are a couple of different versions. One story has the patriarch of the Greek gods send an eagle named Aquila to ferry the prince to Olympus, and another has Zeus assume the form himself and carry him to the home of the Greek gods. Communication was not Zeus' strong suit, and his wife Hera was REALLY mad that he made this decision, especially since her daughter Hebe had performed those duties. Zeus ignored his wife's ire — it's unknown if Greek gods had to sleep on sofas — and installed Ganymede into this position.

Ganymede rode around on Aquila, and one day he noticed that the people of Earth were in dire need of water. So he asked Zeus if he could help them — he was known for being a kind person. Zeus gave his permission and then the people of Earth saw rain for the first time. 

While Ganymede was changed into Aquarius, the god of rain, we still remember his name: None other than Galileo Galilei named one of Jupiter's moons after this water-bearing mortal, per NASA. Aquarius has his own constellation. Here on Earth, we know the real scientific reasons why it rains. Yet, there are times when it might be nice to just look up and imagine Aquarius tipping water into the clouds to bring us that precipitation.