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Constellations: Hercules - Windows to the Universe

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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
The Constellation Hercules, the great warrior
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Hercules

Hercules, the great Greek warrior, can be seen kneeling in the sky for northern latitudes throughout the Spring months. Hercules first becomes visible in the east in April, and works his way high across the night sky through October. From the southern hemisphere, he appears low in the north. Four relatively bright stars form what is commonly known as the Keystone. Hercules' arms and legs extend from this central square.

By far the most exciting object to see in Hercules is the magnificent globular cluster M13, which is visible in dark night skies even without binoculars or a telescope. This cluster of 300,000 stars appears as a faint fuzzy spot to the naked eye. It is located between the stars which form the western side of the Keystone.

Many other constellations, like Leo, the Lion, Hydra, the nine-headed Serpent, and Draco, the Dragon, were unfortunate victims of Hercules, and thus were also placed in the sky. Cancer, the Crab was sent by Hera to annoy Hercules in his battles, and became yet another victim of the hero.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF