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Australia puts stars on three-coin set

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The success of the Royal Australian Mint’s domed silver coins celebrating the Southern Night Sky, has led the mint to announce a further three-coin series honoring the constellations of the northern hemisphere.

Reverse of RAM’s first, domed, Northern Night Sky Series $5.

Reverse of RAM’s first, domed, Northern Night Sky Series $5.

Once again the coins will be struck on a domed silver flan. The constellation will occupy the concave side that mimics the inverted bowl of the Night Sky as we see it. Queen Elizabeth II will appear on the convex side.

The first constellation to be honored is Cassiopeia, named after the wife of King Cepheus of Æthiopia.

Royal Australian Mint, 17 March 2014

Royal Australian Mint, 17 March 2014

Legend holds that Cassiopeia was both conceited and vain. She boasted that she and her daughter Andromeda were more beautiful than the Nereids, the 50-odd nymph-daughters of the immortal Nereus. Her claim enraged the quick-tempered Poseidon, ruler of the sea. He sent the monster Cetus to destroy Æthiopia.

An oracle told Cepheus and Cassiopeia their only hope to save their country was to sacrifice their daughter. They duly chained her to a convenient seaside rock to provide a distraction for Cetus. In the nick of time Perseus arrived, killed Cetus, rescued Andromeda, and duly won her hand in marriage – as all good heroes do.

An angry Poseidon felt Cassiopeia still needed to learn her lesson. He bound her to a chair and placed it in the heavens to circle the Pole Star throughout eternity. This ensures that for half a year she is upside-down. The constellation outlines her chair of punishment.

The 39.62 mm, 1 oz .999 fine silver $5 has a mintage of 5,000. Designer is Bronwyn King.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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