Though the stars of this region have been seen as a serpent for thousands of
years, their symbolic meaning remains uncertain. It is thought likely that the Serpent and its bearer
Ophiuchus are related to the Greek healer-god Asclepius. The
Greeks believed that the serpents of Asclepius could cure diseases, and so belong a long association between
serpents and medicine that continues to our own time.
Also to be found within the Serpent's Tail is the well-known
nebulaM16, better known as the
Eagle Nebula because it forms the shape of a flying eagle with outstretched
wings. In the heart of this nebula are three towering columns of gas and dust,
the subject of one of the Hubble Space Telescope's most famous images.