Cetus Constellation: Facts & Myths

When asked about the most powerful creature of the seas, which creature comes to the mind? More often than not, it will be the whale that will first enter our imagination. And so is the case with the skies too. The whale is not only the most powerful animal in the seas but is also the figure of influence in the night sky. The constellation of Cetus derives its name from a Greek sea monster, which resembled a whale. This star system is at the same location where the other water-based constellations are present. This includes the constellations of AquariusEridanus, and Pisces.

The Cetus constellation

This star system is not considered in the list of zodiac signs, yet the ecliptic passes from the constellation boundary by little less than a quarter of a degree. This makes the sun, earth, and the moon to be in the parts of the star system for a while along with the rest of the planets of the solar system. The asteroids have a greater inclination towards the ecliptic, which makes it all the more probable for them to be in Cetus for a brief duration of time. Just after the summer solstice, the sun appears to be entering into the Cetus for almost six days, as seen from Mars.

The stars of the Cetus constellation

The collection of stars in the system is just enigmatic. The star named Mira was the first variable star of the system and was designated as the first prototype of its class. It can be viewed with the naked eye over a duration of around 332 days and has a magnitude of around 3. The star also disappears in the remaining tie period, with a magnitude of 10 and thus, this fluctuation in its appearance gives it thee name which means “amazing one.” Alpha Ceti was called Menkar earlier and is a red-hued giant star. It is almost 220 light years away from our planet and is a double star system. Cetus also has 93 Ceti which is a blue-white hued of magnitude 5.6.

Beta Ceti is the brightest star in the system and is also called the Diphda. The orange-hued star is considered the tail of the whale. Gamma Ceti is a double star, with a yellow-hued primary star and a blue-hued secondary star. The nearest Sun-like star closest to our solar system is Tau Ceti and has a yellow-sequence main sequence star.

The legend about Cetus

Name of the star system is derived from the whale. The whale had a huge importance in the Mesopotamian culture and was considered a sea monster. The myth has it that Cetus, the sea monster saved Andromeda from Poseidon’s fury and was therefore killed by Perseus. The constellation is also located in the region named “The Sea” as a lot of water-based constellations are present there.

This is one of the most elegant constellations in the night sky. If you have a knack for astronomy and have a telescope, then this is the constellation to look out for tonight.