The Constellation Hydra, the Sea Serpent
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Hydra is the longest constellation in the sky (>90 degrees) and is
also the largest in terms of area. It is so long that it takes more
than six hours to rise completely. Along its northern side are the
zodiacal signs of Cancer
The serpent's head (south of Cancer and east of Canis Minor) is not a
star cluster but a chance grouping of stars, which are at greatly
different distances (100-400 lightyears away). The northernmost of the
six, Epsilon Hydrae, is a quintuple star - a system of five stars.
M48 is a fairly faint, but large, open cluster of about 80
stars easily observed with binoculars. It has an apparent diameter
bigger than the disc of the full Moon.
This famous sea serpent is one of the most ancient constellations. In
Greek mythology, Hercules
slew Hydra, a horrible serpent with many heads that grew back as soon
as they were cut off. Killing the Hydra was one of Hercules' twelve
labors, during which he also defeated Leo, the
lion, and Draco, the dragon.
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