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Summer of Mars

Andromeda
 


Abbreviation: And
Genitive: Andromedae
Translation: Princess of Ethiopia or the Chained Lady

Position in the Sky
Right Ascension: 1 hour
Declination: 40 degrees
Visible between latitudes 90 and -40 degrees
Best seen in November (at 9:00 PM)
Named Stars

ALPHERATZ (Alpha And)
MIRACH (Beta And)
ALMAAK (Gamma 1 And)
Adhil (Xi And)
Messier Objects

M31 The Andromeda Galaxy (spiral galaxy)
M32 Satellite galaxy of Andromeda (elliptical galaxy)
M110 Satellite galaxy of Andromeda (elliptical galaxy)


The Myth of Perseus

Perseus is the son of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, and a mortal woman. The woman's husband, Polydectes, king of Seriphos, was naturally angry, but when your wife has an affair with a god, what can you do? So, instead, when Perseus grew up Polydectes sent him on what he believed was an impossible quest. The king sent his step-son out to kill Medusa, one of three sisters called the Gorgons who were so ugly, anyone who looked at them would turn to stone. He appealed to the gods for help and was given a mirrored shield by Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and a pair of winged sandals by Hermes (also know as Mercury), the messenger of the gods. Perseus flew using the sandals to find Medusa. When he found her, he did not look at her. Instead, he used the reflection in the shield to guide his sword so he could behead her as she slept. As she died, the white, winged horse Pegasus sprang from her neck.
On his way back from his victory against the Gorgons, Perseus came across a woman chained to a rock, waiting to be sacrificed to a sea monster, called either Cetus or Draco, depending on which version of the myth you believe. This woman was Andromeda, the Princess. Her mother, Cassiopeia boasted that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the Nereids (or sea nymphs), which were the daughters of Poseidon (or Neptune), the god of the sea. Angered by the insult to his daughters, Poseidon sent floods to the lands ruled by Cassiopeia and her husband, King Cepheus. Cepheus consulted an oracle who told him that the only way to quell Poseidon's anger was to sacrifice his daughter.

Luckily, Perseus came on the scene just in the nick of time and killed the sea monster and saved the princess.

As a small side note, it is interesting that Cepheus shows up again in Greek mythology when he and 17 of his sons were killed by Hercules

Antlia
 

Abbreviation: Ant
Genitive: Antliae
Translation: The Air Pump

Position in the Sky
Right Ascension: 10 hours
Declination: -35 degrees
Visible between latitudes 45 and -90 degrees
Best seen in April (at 9:00 PM)
Antlia was named by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. Originally called Antlia Pneumatica and Machine Pneumatique, it was named after the air pump invented by Robert Boyle.

Aquarius
 

Abbreviation: Aqr
Genitive: Aquarii
Translation: The Water Bearer

Position in the Sky
Right Ascension: 23 hours
Declination: -15 degrees
Visible between latitudes 65 and -90 degrees
Best seen in October (at 9:00 PM)
Named Stars

SADALMELIK (Alpha Aqr)
Sadalsuud (Beta Aqr)
Sadalachbia (Gamma Aqr)
Skat (Delta Aqr)
Albali (Epsilon Aqr)
Ancha (Theta Aqr)
Situla (Kappa Aqr)
Messier Objects

M2 (globular cluster)
M72 (globular cluster)
M73 (system or astrerism of 4 stars)
This is one of the 13 constellations of the Zodiac.

Aquarius is a rather faint constellation which would not be famous if it weren't part of the Zodiac. Aquarius, as its name suggests is universally associated with water. In most cultures, it is drawn as a man pouring water from a bucket. This may arise from the fact that the Sun enters Aquarius in early winter when the rainy season begins in many parts of the world.

Apus
 

Abbreviation: Aps
Genitive: Apodis
Translation: The Bird of Paradise

Position in the Sky
Right Ascension: 16 hours
Declination: -75 degrees
Visible between latitudes 5 and -90 degrees
Best seen in July (at 9:00 PM)
Apus was named by Johann Bayer. Apus lies just south of Triangulum Australe very near the South Celestial Pole. Named from the Greek word that means "footless" and also from the word "Apus Indica", a bird that was offered as a gift to the Europeans after it's unsightlly legs were removed.

Aquila
 

Abbreviation: Aql
Genitive: Aquilae
Translation: The Eagle

Position in the Sky
Right Ascension: 20 hours
Declination: 5 degrees
Visible between latitudes 85 and -75 degrees
Best seen in September (at 9:00 PM)
Named Stars

ALTAIR (Alpha Aql)
ALSHAIN (Beta Aql)
TARAZED (Gamma Aql)
Deneb el Okab (Epsilon Aql)
Deneb el Okab (Zeta Aql)
Altair, along with Deneb and Vega form the well-known Summer Triangle.
Depictied as an eagle, Aquila is named for the bird that belonged to Zeus. Aquila's most famous task was carrying the mortal Ganymede to the heavens to serve as Zeus' cup bearer.

Two major novae have been observed in Aquila. The first one was in 389 AD and was recorded to be as bright as Venus. The other shone brighter than Altair, the brightest star in Aquila. A nova is what the ancients called a "new star." In reality, it is not a new star at all, but a very old one that suddenly becomes bright again, regaining some of the former glory of its youth. Note that there is a very strong difference between a nova (an old star brightening temporarily) and a supernova (a massive star exploding).