Andromeda BofMl M

triangulum fl^lbi

PISCES

Andromeda

Star

Name

Magnitude

Distance (Light-years)

a

Alpheratz

2.06

72

P

Mirach

2.06

88

y

Almaak

2.18

121

5

3.2 7

160

easily make out the two separately though a small telescope. The colour contrast is one of the most striking in the sky.

On a dark, clear night we can see the farthest object visible to the unaided eye in the constellation of Andromeda. It is the great Andromeda Galaxy (M31), a vast spiral galaxy similar to our own Milky Way galaxy, lying at a distance of almost two million light-years away from us. On a clear night, away from city lights, it appears as an elongated hazy patch to the northwest of the star Beta Andromedae.

Andromeda.

With a pair of binoculars or a telescope we can see its elliptical shape more distinctly. But if we want to see its real splendour we have to look at photographs taken through a large telescope with long time-exposures. Andromeda galaxy culminates at around 9.00 p.m. during the second week of November.

Pisces

To the southeast of the Square of Pegasus lies the zodiacal constellation of Pisces, the Fishes (Meena). The constellation consists mostly of faint stars and is quite unimpressive. But we can locate it by the ring of five faint stars (called the Circlet) just below the Square. Extending to the east of the Circlet in the general neighbourhood of the southeastern corner of the square, if we look carefully, we can make out a large 'V' formed by a chain of faint stars. The upper (northern) end of the V lies just below the star Beta Andromedae. This V-shaped chain of stars and the Circlet together form the constellation proper. There is no object of special interest in Pisces. Pisces culminates at

TRIANGULUM

ANDROMEDA

PEGASUS

Circlet

TRIANGULUM

ANDROMEDA

PEGASUS

Pisces

Star

Name

Magnitude

Distance (Light-years)

a

A1 Rischa

3.79

99

Y

3.69

156

11

Alpherg

3.62

143

The Fishes.

around 9.00 p.m. during the last week of November.

Returning to the southern sky, to the east of Sagittarius on the Zodiac lie the constellations of Capricornus and Aquarius, both zodiacal constellations. Both constellations are, however, rather dull and difficult to locate as they are made up mostly of faint stars of magnitude 4 or more.

Capricornus

Capricornus, the Sea Goat (Makara) can be seen directly south of Cygnus, although at quite a distance from it. We can locate it easily by extending the imaginary line joining Vega with Altair further down (south) by almost the same distance. If we look carefully, and if the sky is clear, we

Capricornus

Star

Name

Magnitude

Distance (Light-years)

AlGiedi

Dabih Nashira Deneb al Giedi

1600 117 104 59 49

a can make out what looks like the shape of a boat formed by faint stars, although it is supposed to represent a goat with a fish tail. Capricornus has two interesting multiple stars. The star Alpha Capricorni is a double star of which the two component stars can be seen with the unaided eye. Small telescopes will show that each of the two is a double with still fainter companions. The star Beta Capricorni is also a double, but its two components can be seen separately only with a pair of binoculars. The brighter

The Sea Goat.

of the two (mag. 3.0) is of yellow colour and the fainter one (mag. 6.0) coloured blue. The constellation also has a globular cluster (M 30) which we can spot to the left of star Zeta Capricorni (mag. 3.74). In binoculars, it appears as a hazy star. Capricornus culminates at around 9.00 p.m. during the last week of September.

The Sun passes through Capricornus from late January to mid-February. In ancient times the Sun used to be in Capricornus at the winter solstice, its farthest point south of the equator. But it does not do so now as the effect of precession has moved the winter solstice into the neighbouring constellation of Sagittarius. Yet, the latitude on Earth at which the Sun appears overhead on that day (December 22) is still known as the Tropic of Capricorn. According to the Indian calender the Sun moves from Sagittarius to Capricornus on January 14 every year —the day celebrated as Makar Sankranti in India (although the transit now takes place on January 19).

Aquarius

Next to Capricornus on the Zodiac is the constellation of Aquarius, the Water Bearer (Kumbha). Though it covers a large area, it is an obscure constellation having only one star as bright as the third magnitude. The best way to find it is to use the stars Beta Pegasi and Alpha Pegasi as rough pointers. South of Pegasus, if we look just below the star Theta Pegasi we will find (after some effort, maybe) a small group of four still fainter stars —one symmetrically surrounded by three others—forming a 'Y'. The uppermost (northernmost) star of the group is the faintest and may not be always visible (depending on the sky condition. But once we have located it, it will not be difficult to spot. The

PEGASUS

PISCES

AQUARIUS

CAPRICORNUS

Aqaurius

Star

Name

Magnitude

Distance (Light-years)

Sadalmelik Sadalsuud Sadachiba Scheat

945 978 91 98 33

Albali

The Water Bearer.

Y-shaped group is supposed to form the 'Water Jar' after which the constellation is named. The star Lambda Aquarii (mag. 3.8) is identified with Satabhisaj, one of the 27 nakshatras of Indian astronomy. Aquarius culminates at around 9.00 p.m. during the second week of October.

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