Cetus is a very large constellation. It is best viewed from October through January.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original image
The constellation Cetus represents the Sea Monster. It is one of the largest constellations known.
In classical civilizations, the figure was the giant sea monster that almost ate Andromeda. King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia were forced leave their daughter chained to a cliff. When the monster came up to eat her, the hero Perseus defeated him and later married Andromeda.
Because Cetus is so large, there are only a few months that the complete figure is visible in the sky. Look for Cetus from October through January. His head is a circle near the constellation Taurus. His long body stretches towards the southwest. The larger circle in the constellation is the tail, not the body!
The first variable star ever discovered is in the Sea Monster. It is called Mira, and was discovered in 1596 by David Fabricius. Mira is located right in the middle of the body. A few galaxies and one nebula are located near the top of the circle that makes up Cetus' tail.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
According to a Greek legend, the sea god Poseidon placed the figure of Cassiopeia among the stars. It is said that Cassiopeia has a ridiculous upside-down position to punish her for having been pretentious....more
What's in a Name: Latin for Wonderful Claim to Fame: Humans have been watching this star with interest for over 300 years. It changes its luminosity over a 332 day period by both shrinking and cooling....more
Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus. She was very pretty, and would often brag that she and her daughter were more beautiful than the sea nymphs, the Nereids. They complained to Poseidon, who sent...more
Cepheus was king of a land called Ethiopia in Greek myth. He had a wife named Cassiopeia and a daughter, Andromeda. Cassiopeia liked to brag about her beauty so much, that she said she and Andromeda were...more
Many different constellations fill the evening sky in the northern hemisphere. Depending on your location and the season, different constellations can be seen. Northern circumpolar constellations can be...more
Many different constellations fill the evening sky in the southern hemisphere. Depending on your location and the season, different constellations can be seen. Southern circumpolar constellations can be...more
The constellation Carina is known as the Keel, which is the bottom part of old ships. Carina was originally a part of Argo Navis, which was a huge boat in the night sky. It has since been divided into...more
In most cases, however, the stars that we see that seem to be "close" to each other actually are quite far apart, some stars are much closer or farther than others as is shown in the example below of Ursa...more