International Star Registry

All Constellations

Capricornus - Sea Goat

Capricorn is the tenth member of the zodiac, receiving the Sun in January and February. The Alpha star, called Algedi, meaning goat or ibex, is actually two stars each visible without magnification. Capricorn is situated south of the Dolphin and next to Sagittarius.

Capricornus is said to be Pan or Bacchus. Along with some other deities, he was feasting near the banks of the Nile when suddenly the dreadful giant Typhon roared up and compelled them to assume different shapes in order to escape his fury.

Pan led the plunge into the Nile. The part of his body under water assumed the form of a fish while the other part assumed that of a goat with little horns and a goat-like beard. But before we say how his new metamorphosed shape preserved the memory of this adventure, let us look first at Pan.

Pan is derived from a Greek word signifying all things. He was often considered as the great principal of vegetable and animal life. He resided chiefly in Arcadia, in the woods and the most rugged mountains. Pan usually was terrified of the inhabitants of the adjacent country, even when they were nowhere to be seen. That kind of fear, which often seizes people in response to only an imaginary threat, was the source of the word “panic”.

Some say this constellation was the goat Amalthea, who supported the infant Zeus with her milk. To reward her kindness, the father of the gods placed her among the constellations and gave one of her horns to the nymphs who had taken care of him in his infancy. This gift was ever after called Cornucopia or, the horn of plenty, since it possessed the virtue of imparting to the holder whatever he desired.

Going back, when Capricorn was born (that is, when Pan emerged in his new form as Capricorn), he surfaced to find Zeus in great trouble in Typhon’s storm. Typhon was trying to tear off Zeus’s arms and legs when Capricorn, still possessed of Pan’s pipes, blew a shrill note. The note was so shrill, Typhon had to flee to escape the pain piercing his ears, leaving all the commotion of battle as well as Capricorn’s continuous blowing of Pan’s pipe. Mercury swept down from Olympus. Stopping himself with the wings on his feet, he pulled Zeus back together again. Zeus retreated and flew back home to Olympus, gathered an armload of thunderbolts, and went after Typhon. Typhon escaped underground, from whence he came. There he remains except for the times when he comes back as a sea storm to threaten boats and islands with extinction.

In thanksgiving for his rescue, Zeus raised the new Pan into the stars where he lives in his constellation, Capricorn, between Aquarius and Sagittarius low in the southern horizon.

Known as Azazel, the scapegoat, in the Book of Leviticus, Capricorn has been assigned to Simon, the Apostle. In the Hebrew zodiac according to the Encyclopedia Judaica, Capricorn is ascribed to the tribe of Dan.
Right Ascension 09:06
Diameter (°)18
Area (square °)414
Opposition Aug 06
Size Rank 40th
Brightness Rank 43rd