Tag Archives: Cetus

Fornax (The furnace)

Constellation FornaxFornax, the furnace, is a southern constellation that barely comes into view for observers at 40-degrees north latitude. It is south of Cetus, and flanked by Eridanus and Sculptor. It reaches its highest point in the sky at nightfall in January, but its dim stars and placement at only ten degrees above the horizon make this a very challenging constellation. The view beyond Fornax’s foreground stars is out of the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. This accounts for the paucity of visible stars in this region, and is why it was chosen for one of the Hubble Deep Field photographs. This also explains why a relatively large number of the dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way’s galactic halo can be found in this direction with a telescope.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fornax

IAU Fornax chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Fornax chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Perseus (A Greek mythological hero)

PerseusCCThe constellation Perseus is located near several other constellations to which Perseus is related in Greek mythology: Cepheus, Andromeda, Pegasus, Cassiopeia, and Cetus. This constellation was one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remain among the 88 modern constellations. This easily spotted constellation is well placed high in the northern sky and best seen in January. It is found between Cassiopeia and the Pleiades, and Mirfak (Alpha Persei) is its brightest star Its most interesting star Algol (Beta Persei) is an eclipsing binary star. Its variable brightness, which is noticeable to the naked eye, decreases by over one degree of magnitude for about ten hours on a cycle time of just under three days. This star is also known as the Demon Star, because the ancients perceived its variability as an ominous sign. Also notable in this constellation is theNGC869NGC884 Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884), which are naked eye objects under very dark skies. Perseus is home to two Messier objects, M34 and M76, and to the Perseids meteor shower. This meteor shower, one of the most consistently prominent meteor showers each year, lasts from mid-July to late August, peaking between the 9th and 10th of August.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseus_(constellation)

606px-Perseus_IAU.svg
IAU Perseus chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Phoenix (The mythical Phoenix)

Constellation PhoenixMythical Phoenix is very low and dim southern constellation that is challenging to locate from northern latitudes. Find it by drawing a line southward from Pisces through Cetus and Sculptor. Because it is located so far south, it is only visible at its highest nightfall ascension in December, and perhaps its brightest star, Ankaa (Alpha Phoenicis) will be the only star visible through the haze on the horizon. Two recently-discovered galaxy clusters, Phoenix and El Gordo, are among the largest objects in the visible universe.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(constellation)

IAU Phoenix chart, IAU and Sky Telescope magazine, Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg, June 5, 2011.
IAU Phoenix chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Sculptor (The sculptor)

The Sculptor is a southern constellation of dim stars that does not rise very high in the sky. It is located south of a point half way between Aquarius and Cetus, and can only be seen from October through January, reaching its highest nightfall ascension in early December. The most notable characteristic of this constellation is that it contains the southern pole of the Milky Way Galaxy. The implication of this is that an observer is looking out of the galactic plane, instead of through its long axis as when observing the Milky Way. This explains why there are fewer stars in this region of the sky.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sculptor_(constellation)

IAU Sculptor chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Sculptor chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Cetus (A sea monster in Greek mythology)

CetusCetus, the Greek mythological sea monster, is a large southern constellation on the celestial equator, and one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is accompanied by other water constellations – Pisces, Aquarius and Eridanus. Its head is nestled among three zodiacal constellations: Taurus, Aries and Pisces. Its body is south (below) Pisces, and is flanked by Aquarius and Eridanus. Cetus’ close proximity to the ecliptic means that the Moon, planets and asteroids occasionally pass through this constellation. Cetus is placed highest in the sky at nightfall in December.

Cetus is home to one Messier object, M77, a striking face-on spiral galaxy. Among Cetus’ stars is an unusual variable star, the disappearing  one, or Mira (Omicron Ceti). This star’s high variability from 3rd magnitude to 10th magnitude means that it disappears from view when it dips below 5th or 6th magnitude. Cetus’ brightest star Menkar (Alpha Ceti) marks the sea monster’s nose.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cetus

IAU Cetus chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.
IAU Cetus chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 5, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Aquarius (The water bearer)

Constellation AquariusAquarius, the water bearer, is a rather dim and nondescript zodiacal constellation. This southern constellation was cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy. It is located in a region known to  the ancients as “the sea” because several water constellations, to include Capricornus (the sea goat), Piscis Austrinis (the fish), Pisces (the fishes), and Cetus (the sea monster) are gathered there. It is situated on the ecliptic between Capricornus and Pisces, and is just south of the Great Square of Pegasus. Aquarius reaches its highest nightfall ascension in November. Three globular star clusters, M2, M72 and M73 are the only Messier objects found in this constellation. The Eta Aquariids is the strongest meteor shower radiating from Aquarius, peaking at about 35 meteors per hour between May 5th and 6th.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquarius_(constellation)

IAU Aquarius chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), January 27, 1997.
IAU Aquarius chart, Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), January 27, 1997.

© James R. Johnson, 2014.
jim@jrjohnson.net

Andromeda (Cassiopeia’s daughter)

Andromeda, CassiopeiaAndromeda, the mythological daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, is located near these two constellations and among several other constellations representing the Perseus myth, to include Perseus, Pegasus, and Cetus. It is one of the 48 constellations cataloged by 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remain among the 88 modern constellations. It is found directly overhead at the zenith after sunset in December. Although Andromeda is not a very distinct constellation in light-polluted skies, most of its stars can be observed. It’s brightest star, Alpheratz (Alpha Andromeda), is shared with the constellation Pegasus, and marks one corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Locate this constellation by starting with the north eastern most star of the Great Square of Pegasus, and find the remaining stars flowing north east from there.

The Andromeda Galaxy (M31), M31boboThe Milky Way’s closest galactic neighbor, is found in this constellation. M31 can be found with the unaided eye in the very darkest of dark skies, but can easily be found with a binocular or telescope under most adverse light pollution conditions. M31 and M110 are two of M31’s dwarf companion galaxies that can also be seen in most photographs of M31.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andromeda_(constellation)

IAU Andromeda chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 4, 2011.
IAU Andromeda chart, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott and Rick Fienberg), June 4, 2011.

© James R. Johnson, 2014
jim@jrjohnson.net