- The story behind the Cassiopeia constellation is simply mind-blowing. Before we go any deeper understanding of the constellation Cassiopeia, let’s talk about the legend of the mysterious and charming name of Cassiopeia
The Myth has connected the constellation Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda whale, and Perseus wonderful legend which has excited people of all times. The legend was so fantastic even Hollywood made several movies based on the story including Clash of the Titans (2010), Perseus The Invincible (1962)
The story goes like this
Far away in the southern part of Earth, there was a flourishing country Ethiopia which was ruled by King Cepheus with his wife Queen Cassiopeia. King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia had only one daughter, and her name was Andromeda.
She was brought up by her parents and the girl is most beautiful than all girls in Ethiopia. Cassiopeia was very proud of her daughter’s beauty. Cassiopeia boasted that Andromeda was the most beautiful woman in the world, even more, beautiful than the gods. The fifty sea nymphs attendants of Thetis, outraged and grief by Queen Cassiopeia Nereids burst into tears. Poseidon, the brother of Zeus and the god of the seas, took great offense at this statement, for he had created the most beautiful beings ever in the form of his sea nymphs.
In his anger, he created a great sea monster, Cetus (pictured as a whale) to ravage the seas and sea coast and sent a great disaster to Ethiopia. Every day when Helios flew by his gold coach in the sky, the Monster whale came out in the heavy sea. Fire flame erupted from his big month and fear eyes, from his ears – black clouds came out and cowered the earth with darkness. The sea monster whale reached the beaches of Ethiopia angry to the Queen.
He burnt out everything along his way and ash spitted everywhere his heavy flame.
The flourishing country of Ethiopia was in danger to be transformed into a burnt-out dead desert. The song of the birds stopped there were no herds on the meadows fear and horror caught the people in Ethiopia. Cry was heard everywhere. Nobody could help their country and save it the disaster. Desperate King Cepheus told his oracle how he could help his country.
The oracle said :
The whale won’t stop burning out the country unless you sacrifice your daughter, the beautiful Andromeda, to this sea monster.
King Cepheus told Cassiopeia about the will of the gods. She began to cry and she couldn’t say anything. King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia cried for a long time seeing how the flame coming out of the month of whale bunt out the country and transformed it into a desert, they decided to execute the will of gods.
Early in the morning pink-finger Eous opened the door to let Helios come in with his gold coach. Cepheus and Cassiopeia saw daughter Andromeda was chained to a large rock projecting out into the sea and was left there to await the arrival of the great sea monster Cetus. The only ray of the sun caresses the face of Andromeda. At that moment the sea fluffed, the big wove with noise smashed in the seaside rock.
From the depth of the sea, the monster whale came out. He opened a wide mouth and spitted a flame whale looked at Andromeda, who was chained to rocks. As the Whale opened his mouth wider and showed his sharp teeth with his eyes blooded, rushed with fury toward her Andromeda started crying.
One more moment before the monster was going to tear her apart, from heights carried by his winged sandals Perseus saw the monster coming towards the rock and listened to the cry of Andromeda. Perseus flew toward the monster like an arrow and stabbed him with his sword, but the sea monster became angrier and spitted more fire which reached to legs of Andromeda. Perseus knew he had no time to continue the fight, he put his hand into his bag and took the head of Medusa. He turned his head not to look at the head of Medusa and directed the face of Medusa towards the monster. At that very moment, the whale transformed into a big rocky island in the rough sea.
Perseus put the head in the bag again, set Andromeda free, and asked her who she was and why she was on the rock. In tears caused by the experienced horror, Andromeda told Perseus about her evil fate. He took Andromeda to the palace of her father. Tears of happiness gushed from the eyes of King Cepheus and Queen Cassiopeia as soon as they saw their beautiful Andromeda alive. Admired by the unseeable feat of Perseus they gave him their daughter Andromeda for a wife, whom he had recused.
An in creable wedding festival was organized in the palace of King Cepheus. The cressets of Eros and Himeney swept enormous halls with golden light. The guests embraced the beautiful like a goddess Andromeda and Perseus greatness. Cepheus and Cassiopeia were glad and happy because the gods sent them such a great hero to rescue their daughter and deliver Ethiopia from the stricken grief. King Cepheus gave Perseus a beautiful palace and a half of the band of Ethiopia.
Perseus didn’t stay in the kingdom of Cepheus. With his newlywed Andromeda Perseus went to the island of Serig to see his mother Danaia. There he found her in terrible misfortune. She hid in the temple of Zevs to run from Polidekt couldn’t come out of it. Anger and tarted lit out in the heart of Perseus, he went to Polidekt while he celebrating with friends. As soon as he looked at Perseus Polidekt couldn’t believe his eye, because he was sure, that Perseus wouldn’t be back. When Perseus told him that he had killed Medusa and carried her head in his bag, Polidekt burst into laughter. Polidekt asks Perseus.
Do you think I believe when a child tells to me lies?
Then Perseus thrust into the bag look the head of Medusa out and turning his head showed Polidekt.
Because you don’t believe my words, I will show with your own eyes.
When Polidekt looked at Medusa’s head and at once transformed into a stone. His friends also transformed into stone. Perseus gave the island of Serig to Diktis, Polidekt’s brother. Once Diktis had taken Polidekt position, rescued his mother from the sea with his fishing net. After that Perseus, Andromeda, and his mother went to Argos where his grandfather Akrizis lived. His grandfather remembered the prediction of the oracle that he would die from the hand of his grandson and therefore evaded from Argos far away to the north Perseus stayed and ruled his native Argos.
He gave the helmet back to Hades, the wing sandals and the magic bag to the nymphs, and the sword to Herme. He gave the head of Medusa to Athiua Palada as a gift. The people of Argos were delighted by Perseius’s rule and there were games and celebrations (festivals very often). Once, heroes from all over Greece came to such games. Olol Aerisii also came and he looked at the competitions with great joy Perseus took part in them, too. He threw a heavy disk, which flew higher and higher… to the clouds and then fell against the head of Acrisii with an enormous streught. So the prediction of the oracle came tone.
Gods turned the heroes of this myth into stars and put them in the sky to brighten as the constellations Cephei Cassiopeia is a Pole constellation that can be seen over the horizon the whole night. It is in the highest position and the brightest during the nights of September and by the end of January. It is surrounded by the constellations Giraffe, Perseus, Andromeda, Cephey, and the Small bear. The biggest part of Cassiopeia is situated in the Milky Way. In spite of this, about 90 stars of is can be seen on a clear moonless night with a naked eye. Five of them – the brightest – form the most characteristic geometric figure of Cassiopeia which looked like the letter M or W. This figure is outlined on the Milky Way attracts the sight. In the ancient star maps and atlases, Cassiopeia was drawn like a young Ethiopian Queen, sitting proudly on her throne.
One of the most famous constellations, that has been discovered by Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE is definitely Cassiopeia. It is located in the northern hemisphere and named by a boastful Greek queen. Due to its distinctive shape and closeness to Ursa Major, Cassiopeia is easy to find. This is the 25th largest constellation in the night sky. It is now one of the 88 modern constellations recognized by the IAU.
How to find it?
You can easily find Cassiopeia in the sky because of its distinctive W shape. She was discovered a long time ago along with all other constellations in the Perseus family. Her exact location is in the northern sky opposite of Ursa Major, and it is bordered by Andromeda, Perseus, Lacerta, Cepheus, and Camelopardalis. The best time to see it in the bright sky is during November in the northern hemisphere.
Major stars in this constellation
The constellation contains several objects like clusters Messier 52 and Messier 103, the Heart Nebula and the Soul Nebula, Cassiopeia A, and the White Rose Cluster. The brightest star in the constellation is Schedar, Alpha Cassiopeiae. There is one meteor shower associated with Cassiopeia and that is the Perseid meteor shower.
This constellation is shaped in the letter W from its five bright stars: Epsilon, Delta, Gamma, Alpha, and Beta Cassiopeiae.
Perseus constellation is positioned in the northern sky. This is one of the larger constellations that lie next to Andromeda. Ptolemy was to one to spot it in 2nd century CE, and it is now acknowledged by IAU and listed as one of 88 modern constellations.
How to spot it?
Perseus is circumpolar which means that it is visible to all observers throughout the year. The best time to look for it is when the sky is bright and night starry during winter and springtime.
Major stars in Perseus constellation
Perseus is the 24th largest constellation in the night sky and it lies in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. It could be seen throughout the year between +90° and -35°. Perseus is bordered by Andromeda, Aries, Auriga, Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Taurus and Triangulum.
The brightest star of this constellation is Algol, but Perseus is actually most famous for its annual meteor shower Perseid. This constellation also contains notable deep-sky objects, such as] Messier 34, the Double Cluster, the California Nebula (NGC 1499) and the Little Dumbbell Nebula (Messier 76).
Andromeda is one of the oldest and most widely recognized constellations that shows up in the northern hemisphere and is a part of the family of Perseus, Cepheus, and Cassiopeia. This one is associated with ancient Babylonian astronomy but found by Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE (was part of then known 48 constellations). Her special feature is the Andromeda Nebula nearest spiral galaxy.
Andromeda is a part of the Perseus family of constellations, along with Auriga, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Cetus, Lacerta, Pegasus, Perseus and Triangulum. It contains 3 Messier objects: Messier 31 (Andromeda Galaxy, now called Nebula), Messier 32 and Messier 110.
How to spot it?
To find it, look for a constellation Cassiopeia in the northern part of the sky, what is shaped like letter W. Andromeda constellation is located directly next to it, and is also connected to the stars that make up the constellation Pegasus. Although Andromeda is visible to all northern hemisphere people, there is a possibility to spot it from the south of the equator.
The best time to spot it on the northern hemisphere is around 10 pm late Fall (October and November). You can also see it during winter, but due the longest night hours, the best time to look for it on the sky will be around 6 or 7 pm.
Looking for it from the southern hemisphere is also possible during October and November if you look on the northeast horizon around 10 pm. In other months, especially in December, Andromeda appears low on the north horizon, also around 10 pm, and disappears below the northwestern one in the next two to three hours.
The Almagest is a compiled list of ancient 48 constellations that were spotted by Greek-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century CE. Cepheus, named after Ethiopian King, is one of the northern constellations among them. Today it is also recognized by IAU and listed as one of 88 modern constellations in the night sky.
Bordered constellations are Camelopardalis, Cassiopeia, Cygnus, Draco, Lacerta, and Ursa Minor. Cepheus was known in history, not only for being the mythical king of Ethiopia but for being connected with Andromeda and Cassiopeia. Cepheus is the 27th largest constellation and located in the fourth quadrant of the northern hemisphere.
How to spot it?
Cepheus constellation contains only one bright star Alderamin – Alpha Cephei, but seven major stars. Alpha Cephei, is located about 48 light-years away and signifies ‘the right arm’ in Arabic. You can easily spot this circumpolar constellation of the northern hemisphere during the month of November. Alderamin periodically comes within 3 degrees of being a pole star. Part of the constellation is also a Garnet Star, one of the largest known stars in the Milky Way.
Major stars in Cepheus constellation
Cepheus has only one star with known planets and contains no Messier objects. The brightest star is Alderamin or Alpha Cephei. There are no meteor showers that are connected with this constellation.