Published December 15, 2022 | Version v1
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Portrait of Bat


Honourable mention in the 2022 IAU OAE Astrophotography Contest, category Still images of celestial patterns.


Taken in November 2019 from the Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai, Thailand, this image captures the notable northern constellation Cassiopeia, in the shape of the letter M. Although the official constellation name is the Latinised version of the name of queen “Kasseipeia” from Greek mythology, these five bright stars were considered a constellation in many cultures around the world and they are associated with diverse stories. In Thailand, for example, the constellation represents a Bat, while in Hawaiian culture it is called 'Iwa Keli'i, the chief frigate bird.

For the Navajo in North America, the bright stars are the central part of the celestial mother (of all stars and humans) revolving around the celestial pole together with her husband, the celestial father (of all stars and humans) seen in the constellation of Ursa Major. For the Maya it was part of the huge constellation of the Hole-Backed Caiman, and for the Inuit a Lamp Stand and a Blubber Container.

In ancient China, the bottom-left star was associated with the mythological general Wangliang who drove four horses, represented by the two bright and two fainter stars of the M’s next stroke (from upper-left to lower-middle). The remaining two bright stars and a couple of the other fainter ones are considered a Flying Corridor, a sort of highway, next to the Emperor’s Forbidden Palace that is located at the northern polar region.

On the island of Tonga in the South Pacific, this asterism is considered the Wing of Tafahi and it is not clear if this refers to the shape of the island of Tafahi, or if it is based on an error and originally referred to a wing of the Polynesian hero Tafaki.

The various colours of the stars indicate their temperatures, with redder stars being relatively cooler on their surface than blue and white stars.

Credit: Thanakrit Santikunaporn/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)


Honourable mention in the 2022 IAU OAE Astrophotography Contest, category Still images of celestial patterns: Portrait of Bat, by Thanakrit Santikunaporn.jpg