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The constellation Cepheus.
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King Cepheus

Cepheus is one of the oldest constellations in the night sky. He is a circumpolar constellation, circling around the North Star all year long. This house-shaped constellation is named after an ancient king of a land called Ethiopia (different from the current country, Ethiopia). He was married to the beautiful Cassiopeia and had a daughter, Andromeda.

In Greek mythology, Cassiopeia boasted that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the Nereids. They complained to the sea god Poseidon, who sent a monster to destroy Cepheus' land. The king and queen offered their daughter to the monster, but she was saved by Perseus. All four people, along with the monster, are represented in the sky by constellations.

Cepheus looks like a house with a steep roof. It is not clear as to what ancient people saw in this constellation. It is full of interesting objects. The brightest star in the constellation is Alderamin, which is the westernmost star in Cepheus. The top of the house is a special type of star called a cepheid. Cepheids are pulsating stars, used to find large distances.

Cepheus is full of galaxies and nebulae, although most are too dim to see with the naked eye. If you scan across the constellation with a telescope, you should find at least four different nebulae. It is also full of star clusters, ten to be exact. Unfortunately, most must be viewed with a telescope. Slightly south of Cepheus lies a star that would be considered the North Star if we lived on Mars. This red cepheid is one of the most colorful stars in the sky.

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