Thursday, 20 February 2014
Guardians of the galaxy
The scientific name of the raccoon is Procyon lotor. Procyon is also the name of one of the brightest stars in the winter sky; it can be located quite easily in the vicinity of the constellation Orion.
Orion, the hunter, is the most-easily recognized constellation in the northern sky; it forms an extended cross with the red star Betelgeuse on top, the bright blue star Rigel at the bottom, and a cross-piece (or belt) made of the three stars Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. The hunter is accompanied by its two dogs: Sirius (the brightest star in the night sky) and Procyon. Sirius is roughly at the same level as Rigel if you use Orion's belt as a reference horizon, and Procyon is above Sirius, roughly at the same level as Betelgeuse.
"Procyon" is Greek for "Before the dog" (Pro - Kyon, the latter having given us the prefix "cyno" that relates to dogs, as in cynocephaly). At one point, it was believed that raccoons were the ancestors of dogs.
As for Rocket Raccoon, he's an American comic-book character who, after decades of relative obscurity, found a measure of popularity as a member of the super-hero team the Guardians of the galaxy, who will appear in a movie of their own in the summer of 2014.