Southern Hemisphere

width 111 depth im size RANKING 10» fuLLY vislBLE 65°n-86°s

Aquarius is a large constellation of the zodiac, between Capricornus and Pisces. It is visualized as a youth (or, sometimes, an older man) pouring water from a jar. The stars Gamma (y), Zeta (Q, Eta (n), and Pi (n) Aquarii make up the water jar, from which a stream of water, represented by more stars, flows southward to Piscis Austrinus. In Greek mythology, Aquarius represented a beautiful shepherd boy, Ganymede, to whom the god Zeus took a fancy. Zeus sent down his eagle (or, in some stories, turned himself into an eagle) to carry the boy to Mount Olympus, where he became a waiter to the gods. The eagle is represented by nearby Aquila. In early May each year, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower radiates from the area of the jar.

features of interest

the helix nebula

Almost half the width of a full moon, this is one of the largest planetary nebulae as measured in apparent size. As its light is spread over such a large area, it requires clear, dark skies to be seen. Visually it appears as a pale gray patch, with none of the colors seen on photographs.

zETA (Q AQUARII 5 A close binary of 4th-magnitude stars just at the limit of resolution in telescopes of 2.4 in (60 mm) aperture.

M2 k 5 A globular cluster that appears as a fuzzy star when viewed through binoculars and small telescopes.

ngc 7009 (THE SATURN NEBULA) K 5 S A planetary nebula appearing similar in size to the disk of Saturn through small telescopes. Larger telescopes reveal faint extensions either side, rather like Saturn's rings.

NGc 7293 (THE HELix NEBULA) K 5 S This nebula is estimated to be the closest planetary nebula to us, at 300 light-years away.

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