International Star Registry

All Constellations

Corvus - Crow

A small constellation, the “crow” is situated on the eastern part of Hydra. It contains five easily visible stars.

The crow, it is said, was not of the purest white as it had once been. Because of this, the gods argued and changed it from nondescript gray to black.

“The raven once on showy plumes was drest,

White as the whitest dove’s unsullied breast,

Fair as the guardian of the capitol,

Soft as the Swan; a large and lovely fowl;

His tongue, his prating tongue, had changed him quite

To sooty blackness from the purest white.”

According to Greek fable, Apollo made the crow a constellation. Apollo was jealous of Coronis, the daughter of Phtegyas and mother of Esculapius. He sent a crow to check out her behavior. Coronis, the bird perceived, was partial for Ischys the Thesalian, and immediately snitched to Apollo. The jealous god shot Coronis with an arrow, killing her instantly.

“The god was wroth; the colour left his look,

The wreath his head, the harp his hand forsook;

His silver bow and feather’d shafts he took,

And lodged an arrow in the tender breast,

that had so often to his own been prest.”

As seems to have been habitual in those days, Corvus, the crow, was rewarded by being placed among the constellations.

Another legend has it that the constellation takes its name from the daughter of Coronaeus, King of Phocis, who was transformed into a crow by Minerva to rescue the maid from Neptune’s hot pursuit. The following, from an eminent Latin poet of the Augustine age, is her own account of the metamorphosis as translated into English verse by Mr. Joseph Addison:

“For as my arms I lifted to the skies,

I saw black feathers from my fingers rise;

I strove to fling my garment on the ground;

My garment turned to plumes, and girt me round:

My hands to beat my naked bosom try;

Nor naked bosom now nor hands had I:

Lightly I tripp’d, nor weary as before

Sunk in the sand, but skimm’d along the shore;

Till, rising on my wings, I was preferr’d

To be the chaste Minerva’s virgin bird.”

Right Ascension 12:23
Diameter (°)8
Area (square °)184
Opposition Mar 27
Size Rank 70th
Brightness Rank 47th