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Antonio da Correggio: "Jupiter and Io" (1532). The painting depicts Jupiter in the form of a cloud as he steals a kiss from the beautiful river nymph Io.
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Kunsthistorishes Museum, Vienna

Io

Io was a priestess of the Roman goddess Juno. Juno was the jealous wife of Jupiter, the king of the gods. Jupiter was very unfaithful. When Jupiter fell in love with Io, he changed himself into the shape of a dark cloud to hide himself from his jealous wife Juno.

However, Juno looked down on earth and noticed the small cloud. She knew it was her husband. As soon as Juno arrived, Jupiter immediately transformed Io into a white cow to avoid his wife's wrath. But Juno tied the poor cow and sent her faithful servant Argus to watch over Io. Argus had a hundred eyes and only a few were ever closed at any time.

To free Io, Jupiter sent his son Mercury to sing and tell boring stories to make Argus sleep with all his eyes. Mercury told so many stories that finally Argus close all his hundred eyes. Only then did Mercury kill Argus and untie Io who ran home free. Yet when Juno discovered what had occurred, she was so furious that she sent a vicious gadfly to sting the cow forever.

Meanwhile, Io who was still prisoner into the shape of a cow could not get rid of the malicious gadfly. Finally, after Jupiter vowed to no longer pursue his beloved Io, Juno released Io from her inhuman prison, and Io settled in Egypt, becoming the first queen of Egypt.

The Jovian moon Io was named for the mythological character Io by Johannes Kepler, and Simon Marius. And finally, when Voyager 1 passed Io in March 1979 and imaged the surface, the image clearly showed the hoof print of a heifer!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA