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The lunar calendars are here! Makes a great gift. You can find Cassiopeia somewhere in the north for much of the year, and much of the night.

Here it is on an October evening, relative to Polaris, the North Star. Bonus for you if you live north of about 40 degrees north latitude , about the latitude of New York City!

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From that latitude and farther north, the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia are both circumpolar. Upside-down Cassiopeia via Johannes Hevelius. In the s, the International Astronomical Union gave this constellation the official name of Cassiopeia the Queen. Cassiopeia was a queen in ancient Greek mythology. According to legend, she boasted she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs called the Nereids.

Her boast angered Poseidon, god of the sea, who sent a sea monster, Cetus, to ravage the kingdom. Cetus was about to devour her when Perseus the Hero looked down upon her from Pegasus, the Flying Horse. Perseus rescued the Princess, and all lived happily. The gods were so pleased, that all of these characters were elevated to the heavens as stars. Only Cassiopeia suffered an indignity — her vanity caused her to be bound to a chair and placed in the heavens so that, as she revolves around the north celestial pole, she is sometimes in an upside-down position. Read more.

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Bottom line: Spot the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen somewhere in the northern sky during much of the year, and throughout much of the night. Other cultures see a hand or moose antlers in the pattern.


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The Chukchi of Siberia similarly saw the five main stars as five reindeer stags. The people of the Marshall Islands saw Cassiopeia as part of a great porpoise constellation. The main stars of Cassiopeia make its tail, Andromeda and Triangulum form its body, and Aries makes its head.

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The people of Pukapuka saw the figure of Cassiopeia as a distinct constellation called Na Taki-tolu-a-Mataliki. Covering The three-letter abbreviation for the constellation, as adopted by the International Astronomical Union in , is 'Cas'. The German cartographer Johann Bayer used the Greek letters Alpha through Omega , and then A and B, to label the most prominent 26 stars in the constellation. Upsilon was later found to be two stars and labelled Upsilon 1 and Upsilon 2 by John Flamsteed.

B Cassiopeiae was in fact the supernova known as Tycho's Supernova. The asterism is oriented as a W when below Polaris during northern spring and summer nights. In northern winter, and when seen from southern latitudes, it is "above" Polaris i. Alpha Cassiopeiae , traditionally called Schedar from the Arabic Al Sadr , "the breast" , is a four-star system.

The primary dominates, an orange-hued giant of magnitude 2. Beta Cassiopeiae , or Caph meaning "hand" , is a white-hued star of magnitude 2. It is around 1. Gamma Cassiopeiae is the prototype Gamma Cassiopeiae variable star , a type of variable star that has a variable disc of material flung off by the high rotation rate of the star.

Gamma Cassiopeiae has a minimum magnitude of 3. It is a spectroscopic binary, with an orbital period of However, no direct evidence of this companion has been found, leading to speculation that it might be a white dwarf or other degenerate star. Delta Cassiopeiae , also known as Ruchbah or Rukbat, meaning "knee," is a possible Algol-type eclipsing binary star with a maximum brightness of magnitude 2.

It has been reported to show eclipses of less than 0. It is Epsilon Cassiopeiae has an apparent magnitude of 3. It is 6. The next seven brightest stars in Cassiopeia are also all confirmed or suspected variable stars, including 50 Cassiopeiae which was not given a Greek letter by Bayer and is a suspected variable with a very small amplitude. Zeta Cassiopeiae Fulu [24] is a suspected slowly pulsating B-type star.

Eta Cassiopeiae Achird [24] is a spectroscopic binary star with a period of years, and a suspected RS Canum Venaticorum variable. The primary is a yellow-hued star of magnitude 3. The system is 19 light-years from Earth.

High-Resolution Observations of the Radio Sources in Cygnus and Cassiopeia

Kappa Cassiopeiae is a blue supergiant of spectral type BC0. The dimensions of the bow shock are vast: around 12 light-years long and 1. Iota Cassiopeiae is a triple star light-years from Earth. The primary is a white-hued star of magnitude 4.

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The primary and secondary are close together but the primary and tertiary are widely separated. Sigma Cassiopeiae is a binary star light-years from Earth. It has a green-hued primary of magnitude 5. Psi Cassiopeiae is a triple star light-years from Earth. The primary is an orange-hued giant star of magnitude 4. It has around times the Sun's diameter and 17 times its mass, having begun life 45 times as massive as the Sun. Rho Cassiopeiae is about 10, light-years from Earth.

Cassiopeia includes V Cassiopeiae , a second example of the extremely rare yellow hypergiants, which is around , times as luminous as the Sun and 14 times as massive, [28] as well as 6 Cassiopeiae which is a hotter white hypergiant. AO Cassiopeiae is a binary system composed of an O8 main sequence star and an O9. Tycho Brahe's supernova was visible within Cassiopeia, and the star Tycho G is suspected of being the donor of the material that triggered that explosion.

A rich section of the Milky Way runs through Cassiopeia, stretching from Perseus towards Cygnus , and it contains a number of open clusters , young luminous galactic disc stars, and nebulae. The Heart Nebula and the Soul Nebula are two neighboring emission nebulae about 7, light-years away. M52, once described as a "kidney-shaped" cluster, contains approximately stars and is light-years from Earth. Its most prominent member is an orange-hued star of magnitude 8.

M is far poorer than M52, with only about 25 stars included. It is also more distant, at light-years from Earth. Its most prominent member is actually a closer, superimposed double star; it consists of a 7th-magnitude primary and 10th-magnitude secondary. NGC is looser, and its brightest member is Phi Cassiopeiae , a white-hued supergiant star of magnitude 5. The stars of NGC , arrayed in chains, are approximately 10, light-years from Earth. NGC is both closer, at light-years from Earth, and larger, at 0. There are two supernova remnants in Cassiopeia.

The first, designated 3C 10 or just Tycho's Supernova Remnant , is the aftermath of the supernova called Tycho's Star.


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  • It was observed in by Tycho Brahe and now exists as a bright object in the radio spectrum. It is the remnant of a supernova that took place approximately years ago as observed now from Earth; it is 10, light-years away , [35] and has the distinction of being the strongest radio source observable outside the Solar System. It was perhaps observed as a faint star in by John Flamsteed. It was also the subject of the first image returned by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory in the late s. NGC is another open cluster in Cassiopeia, also called the E.

    Cassiopeia A | astronomy | Britannica

    Cluster, the Owl Cluster, and Caldwell The cluster was discovered in by William Herschel. It has an overall magnitude of 6. However, its most prominent member, the double star Phi Cassiopeiae , is far closer — between and light-years away. It is concentrated towards its center and detached from the star field.