Across countless cultures, over thousands of years, the stars have provided inspiration for mythology and lessons about love.
In the modern era we have many sayings that equate the stars to love – ‘star-crossed lovers’, or ‘written in the stars’.
In this article, we’ll talk about 4 romantic constellations for love and tell the stories of Andromeda and Perseus, Queen Berenice, and Altair and Vega.
No love story would be complete without hearts or roses, so we have included a little about the heart and rosette nebulas so you can impress your love at the next stargazing date.
Constellations For Love: 4 Stories Written In The Stars
Andromeda and Perseus
We begin our list with Andromeda and Perseus – two lovers forever immortalized in glittering stars which circle in the Northern Hemisphere.
King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia had a daughter named Andromeda who they boasted was more beautiful than Poseidon’s own children.
As punishment for their hubris, the sea god sent a great monster to destroy the King and Queen’s kingdom.
To appease the foul sea beast, Cassiopeia chained Andromeda to a rock as a sacrifice for the monster.
Meanwhile, the demigod Perseus was returning from slaying the snake-haired gorgon Medusa, when he found the beautiful woman struggling in chains.
He killed the sea monster and rescued Andromeda.
But they couldn’t marry as Andromeda had already promised her hand to a man named Phineus.
The mortal and the demigod fought violently for the beautiful princess in a struggle that only ended when Perseus brandished Medusa’s head at Phineus, turning him to stone.
Andromeda and Perseus married and lived long lives filled with joy and love.
When they died, they were placed together in the sky as eternal beacons of love and loyalty.
Coma Berenices is a collection of stars that cluster around the north galactic pole and is named after a real person – Queen Berenice II who ruled in Ancient Egypt between from 267-221 BC.
Just because her story isn’t a fabrication of mythology, doesn’t mean it isn’t deeply romantic.
When Queen Bernice’s husband Ptolemy III went to war, she was desperate to ensure his safe return.
Her beautiful golden hair was the pride of Egypt so she cut it off and laid the locks as a sacrifice in the temple of Aphrodite.
The goddess of love was so moved by Bernice’s devotion that she delivered Ptolemy safely back to his wife and used the hair to decorate the sky in tribute to the lovers.
As the secrets of ancient Egypt have been uncovered, images of Queen Berenice have been discovered which show her with a shaved head.
Stories don’t have to be based on myth to be poignant to lovers in our modern era.
Although the Coma Berenices is faint, it is highly symbolic of the sacrifices made for love, and the power of the gods to protect those who seek protection.
The constellation circles the north pole as the hair circled Queen Berenice’s head, blessing us all with richness and beauty.
Altair and Vega
The Legend of the Magpie Bridge is an ancient tale from Chinese folklore which ties together the constellations of Lyra, Cygnus, and Aquila.
Altair is a star in the Aquila constellation and represents a poor shepherd boy called Niu Lang.
The star Vega in Lyra represents a weaver girl named Zhi Nu.
Niu Lang and Zhi Nu fall in love, despite their parents utterly forbidding it.
They meet in secret, and all was well until their families found out and separated the two young lovers.
The reason for their relationship being forbidden has been lost to time.
In some versions of the story the shepherd and weaver are neglectful of their chores, in other versions the boy is a mortal whereas the girl was created by the gods.
No matter which version of this ancient story – one detail remains consistent.
Niu Land and Zhi Nu are kept apart by a river.
Depending on the story, this river is either carved into the earth by the gods to prevent mingling between mortals and their own kind.
Or the parents move the couple to either side of the river.
Luckily for Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, a flock of magpies takes pity on the heartbroken pair and once a year they fly down and form a bridge over the treacherous river.
When you look for this story in the stars, you will see that Altair and Vega are separated by the Milky Way galaxy, which represents the river.
The constellation Cygnus represents the bridge of magpies that brings the two together.
Even today, there is an annual celebration in China and some areas of Japan that commemorates the coming together of the star-crossed lovers on the seventh day of the seventh month.
Heart Nebula and Rosette Nebula
If you want to impress your love with a romantic star-gazing date, then cast your eyes to the Heart Nebula, located 7,500 light-years away from Earth.
This romantic formation lies, ironically, in the Cassiopeia constellation – Andromeda’s mother who sacrificed her own daughter to Cetus the sea monster.
Technically known as IC 1805, this emission nebula is almost 200 light-years across and glows with interstellar gas and dust clouds which form a beautiful red heart in the sky.
If you would rather gift your lover with a cosmic rose, then you can peer a little closer to home.
The Rosette Nebula, or NGC 2237, can be found a mere 5,200 light-years from Earth and borders the Monoceros constellation.
The young stars of this nebula have been blown by wind and radiation into the form of a long-stem rose, complete with petals – perfect for a romantic evening beneath the night sky.
Whether you turn to the stars to inspire you to pursue your own love, or to console you when love goes awry – you can be guaranteed to find a fitting celestial love story.
Stars are a sparkling reminder of the bravery of Perseus, the sacrifice of Queen Berenice, and the loyalty of Niu Lang and Zhi Nu.
You might also like:
- What Are Constellations Used For?
- A Guide To Greek Constellations
- A Guide To Navigation Constellations
- Constellations For Love (A List)
- Constellations For Friendship (A List)
- Animal Constellations (a Guide)
- Autumn Constellations
- Spring Constellations
- Winter Constellations
- Summer Constellations