Cassiopeia (constellation): Wikis


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List of stars in Cassiopeia
Abbreviation Cas
Genitive Cassiopeiae
Pronunciation /ˌkæsi.ɵˈpiː.ə/ Cássiopéia, colloquially /ˌkæsiˈoʊpiː.ə/ Cássiópeia; genitive /ˌkæsi.ɵˈpiː.iː/
Symbolism the Seated Queen
Right ascension 1 h
Declination +60°
Family Perseus
Quadrant NQ1
Area 598 sq. deg. (25th)
Main stars 5
Stars with planets 3
Stars brighter than 3.00m 4
Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly) 7
Brightest star α Cas (Schedar) (2.15m)
Nearest star η Cas (Achird)
(19.42 ly, 5.95 pc)
Messier objects 2
Meteor showers Perseids
Visible at latitudes between +90° and −20°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of November.
Photographed Oct. 1st, 2004 from near N41° W73° by Randal J.

Cassiopeia is a constellation in the northern sky. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century Greek astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations today. Cassiopeia is easily recognizable due to its distinctive 'W' shape formed by five bright stars. Cassiopeia A was first seen in 1680. In the sky Cassiopeia sits with Andromeda on the South side, Perseus on the South East and Cepheus to the North. She is opposite The Big Dipper, and can be seen the clearest in early November. In Greek mythology it was considered to represent the vain queen Cassiopeia, who boasted about her unrivaled beauty.


Notable features

Within Cassiopeia’s five major stars lies Cassiopeia A; commonly referred to as Cas A. Cas A is the remnant of supernova Tycho which exploded in late 1572. Cassiopeia A is approximately 300 years old and has the distinction of being the strongest radio source observable outside our solar system. Its first viewing was in 1680 by John Flamsteed and was appropriately named Cassiopeia A because it is within the boundary of the constellation. It was the first image brought back by the Chandra x-ray observation In the late 1990’s. Similar to Cas A there are other stars and supernova remnants referred to as Cassiopeia B,T etc, and may be located in the larger constellation, though they too are only small parts of the whole.

Cassiopeia in her chair, as depicted in Urania's Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825.

Cassiopeia contains two stars visible to the naked eye that rank among the most luminous in the galaxy: ρ Cas and V509 Cas. The star η Cas is a nearby (19.4 ly) binary star comprising a yellow Sun-like dwarf and an orange dwarf star.

Messier objects

Two Messier objects, Messier 52 (NGC 7654) and Messier 103 (NGC 581) are located in Cassiopeia. Both are open clusters and being 7th apparent magnitude objects they are easy targets with binoculars.

The Sun would appear close to Cassiopeia from Alpha Centauri

Cassiopeia viewed from Alpha Centauri

If we were able to observe Earth's Sun from Alpha Centauri, the Sun would appear in Cassiopeia as a yellow-white 0.5 magnitude star. The famous \/\/ of Cassiopeia would become a zig-zag pattern with the Sun at the leftmost end, closest to ε Cas.


Cassiopeia’s story originated in the mythology of ancient Greece. Cassiopeia was the queen and consort of King Cepheus in Ethiopia. Their daughter Andromeda was very beautiful. Cassiopeia herself was a great beauty and was vain of it; she proclaimed her beauty was greater than that of the Nereids', the daughters of the sea god Poseidon. To punish Cassiopeia, he sentenced Andromeda to be tied to a rock with a sea monster awaiting her.

Perseus, returning from having slaughtered the gorgon Medusa, encountered the body of Andromeda lashed to the rock. He spoke to Cassiopeia and her husband and struck a deal with them: he would be allowed to marry Andromeda if he could kill the great sea monster before it killed their virgin daughter (who had been betrothed to her uncle Phineus). Perseus defeated the monster, took Andromeda and returned to Ethiopia.[1] Cassiopeia and Cepheus fulfilled their end of the bargain and began to plan the wedding for Andromeda. After the nuptials began, Phineus entered the proceedings and demanded his right to marry Andromeda.

A battle ensued in which Cepheus and Cassiopeia sided with Phineus. Outnumbered, Perseus considered that he had no choice but to slay his challengers by using the head of the recently slaughtered Medusa. Following their death both Cepheus and Cassiopeia were placed among the stars by Poseidon. Cassiopeia was put upside down for half the year because of her vanity, with her husband beside her.[2]

Variant traditions

The story of Cassiopeia related above is the best known version, but there were variant traditions. According to one, Cassiopeia was a consort of the god Zeus.[3] In this account they had a son named Atymnios (not a daughter), with whom two men fell in love. There is no mention of a betrothed uncle, nor of a sea monster, nor of the head of Medusa. Cassiopeia was however hung upside down in a chair in the stars upon her death.[4]

Names and spellings in the myth also vary with the culture of they myth-tellers. The Greek god Poseidon is known as Neptune in Roman mythology. Cassiopeia, and Cassiopea are Latinized spellings, whereas the Greek name has been transliterated as Kassiopeia, Kassiopea, Cassiope, or Cassiepia.[5]

Also, the object in which Cassiopeia sits in varies with the culture. In Greek and Roman stories, she reposes upside down in a chair. In Arabic culture, Cassiopeia is seen as a camel, while others see a hand or moose antlers in the sky.[6]

In popular culture

The Cuban artist Silvio Rodríguez wrote a song to Cassiopeia just after almost dying in a car crash.

See also

  • IC 10 – dwarf galaxy
  • SN 1572 – Tycho's Star or Tycho's Supernova - B Cassiopeiae


  1. ^ Apollodorus. The Library of Greek Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. p.66-67 see also; Ovid. Metamorphoses ,New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Book IV, Lines 611-803,Book V, Lines 246
  2. ^ Apollodorus. The Library of Greek Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.p,67. See also: Ptak,Robert. Sky Stories Ancient and Modern. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1998. p,89,98104-105
  3. ^ Apollodorus. The Library of Greek Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. p,97
  4. ^ Ibid, 97
  5. ^ Servi, Katerina. Greek Mythology:Gods and heros’- the Trojan War-The Odyssey. Athens: Ghristiana G. Christopoulou, 1997. Index see also p.111
  6. ^ Ptak,Robert. Sky Stories Ancient and Modern. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 1998. p,104
  • Krause O, Rieke GH, Birkmann SM, Le Floc'h E, Gordon KD, Egami E, Bieging J, Hughes JP, Young ET, Hinz JL, Quanz SP, Hines DC (2005). "Infrared echoes near the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A". Science 308 (5728): 1604–6. doi:10.1126/science.1112035. PMID 15947181. 
  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.

External links

Coordinates: Sky map 01h 00m 00s, +60° 00′ 00″

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|160px|Photographed Oct. 1st, 2004 from near N41° W73° by Randal J.]] Cassiopeia is a constellation in the northern sky. It was named after a queen in Greek mythology called Cassiopeia. It looks like a letter W or M, with five bright stars. It has two very bright stars called ρ Cas and V509 Cas.

In 1572, a supernova called Tycho's Star, or SN 1572, was seen in Cassiopeia by many people.

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