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Viewing the stars in St CAtherine

Clash of the Titans

It hit the screens in 2010 and now it’s in the heavens as the constellations of Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Cetus, Pegasus, Perseus and Medusa roll across the night sky.

It all started with Cassiopeia, Queen of Ethiopia, who boasted that her beauty and that of her daughter, Andromeda, exceeded that of the sea nymphs. The watery maidens were offended and brought their grievances to Poseiden, the sea god, who, outraged at the insult, released Cetus, a horrible sea monster, (called the Kraken in the film, imported from Norwegian legend) to ravage the coast of Ethiopia. Desperate to save his dominion, Cepheus, the King of Ethiopia, consulted an oracle and was told to sacrifice his daughter, Andromeda, to the gods. The beautiful maiden was immediately stripped naked (lightly clad in the film), manacled to a rock and exposed to the seething ocean.

Lucky for her, Perseus had just won his wings. He had been born to a beautiful woman, Danae, who had been incarcerated in a tower by her own father, fearing a prophecy that he would be slain by her son. But Zeus entered the tower in a shower of gold (or an eagle if you prefer the film) and raped the woman who thereby conceived Perseus. More frightened than ever, her father boxed the mother and child into a coffin and flung it into the sea. But ocean currents washed the coffin onto an island where the two were freed and the boy grew to manhood in a tight bond of filial love with his mother. The king of the island, however, lusted after Danae and conceived a way to get rid of her protective son. He challenged Perseus to slay the Medusa whose glance alone was enough to turn anyone to stone. But Perseus proved himself equal to the challenge. He acquired winged shoes from Hermes, messenger of the gods, and a bright shield from Athena, sworn enemy to the Medusa, and by using the reflection in the shield he approached the Medusa without catching her petrifying stare, lopped off her head and dropped it into a bag. And from her severed body flew out Pegasus, the winged horse.

Riding Pegasus through the night air, Perseus heard the screams of Andromeda reaching him through the fearsome storms that battered the coast of Ethiopia. In a tremendous struggle, he defeated Cetus and rescued the maiden whom he successfully wed in the face of objections from her parents, Cepheus and Cassiopeia, by simply pulling out the head of the Medusa and turning them into stone. On returning to the island of his mother, the lecherous king and his minions suffered the same fate as the parents of Andromeda and can still be seen in rocks on the island of Crete. It was only years later that his grandfather met his prophesized end in a sporting event when Perseus knocked him dead with a discus.

This blog first appeared as a story in the BCA Magazine of October, 2010, in an effort to bring visitors to Sinai for astronomy lessons with an 8″ Meade LX90 telescope.