Aries the ram was known to the Arabs as "Al Hamal" the sheep. It has also been called the Leader of the Zodiac. Legend tells us that this is the ram that Zeus changed into when he was being pursued by the giants. It is also the source of the golden fleece connected with the Argonauts quest. This ram, was sent by Hermes to rescue the prince, Phrixus. The ram carried the prince to safety on the other side of the Black Sea. The ram was then sacrificed and the fleece was given to the King and later recovered by the Argonauts including Hercules, Castor, Pollux and Orpheus. Aries was probably first added to the zodiac by the Babylonians when the constellation marked the position of the vernal equinox during the period between 1800 BC and AD 1. China knew these stars as both the dog and the white tiger.

For the Observer

Autumn and Winter Skies

Hamal, alpha Arietis( 02h 07m +23° 28' ) with a magnitude of 2.0 is a yellow K2 class star. It is 75 light years distant. Hamal has a transit of December 20th.

Gamma Arietis ( 01h 55m .1 + 23° 20') was one of the first double stars discovered. Robert Hooke discovered it by accident while looking for a comet in 1664. The pair have magnitudes of 4.6 and 4.8. They are white and pale blue-grey in color.

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Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator