20 May 2019
Our beautiful night sky is divided into various different constellations. Cepheus is the 88 th constellation and is located in the northern hemisphere. One of the largest Milky ways, the Garnet Star, passes through the Cepheus Constellation. It also possesses several deep sky objects such as Wizard Nebula and Fireworks Galaxy. Cepheus constellation is the largest constellation and can be seen during November between latitudes of +90° and -10.
Interesting Myths about Cepheus Constellation
Cepheus constellation belongs to the Perseus Family of Constellations, which includes Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus, Pegasus, Cetus, Auriga, Lacerta, and Triangulum.
An interesting myth about Cepheus is that the wife of King Cepheus of Aethiopia, Cassiopeia, invited the anger of Poseidon after she claimed that her daughter Andromeda was more beautiful than the wife of the Sea God.
A furious Poseidon, represented by constellation Cetus today, sent a sea creature to thrash the kingdom of Perseus Family after which Cepheus reached out to an oracle which asked him to sacrifice his daughter to the sea monster.
Cetus looked out for Andromeda only to find her tied to a rock. He claimed that Andromeda was his wife, but was ultimately killed by the hero Perseus who came to save Andromeda on his flying horse, the Pegasus.
A fire broke out after Cepheus’s brother Phineus got to know about this Cepheus had promised to marry Andromeda to him. Consequently, Perseus killed many of his enemies with the help of Medusa’s head and turned them into stone.
In order to punish Poseidon for inflicting insult on him, Cassiopeia placed her in the sky as a constellation where she circles the celestial pole. Poseidon’s husband also met the same fate.
The Principal Stars of Cepheus Constellation
Alderamin is the brightest blue-white star. It rotates at a very high rate which is estimated to be at least 246 km/second at its equator.
Alfirk (Beta Cephei)
It is the second brightest star and a very slow rotator. It rotates at around 28 km per second, taking 51 days to complete just a single rotation.
Alrai (Gamma Cephei)
The third brightest star of Cepheus Constellation is Alrai. It includes other stars such as supergiant Nu Cephei, the yellow-white dwarf Epsilon Cephei and the orange subgiant Zeta.
It is a yellow-white supergiant star. Astronomers use them to calculate distances by measuring their magnitude to home galaxies.
Garnet Star (Mu Cephei)
It is a beautiful luminous star which was first observed by Sir William Herschel in 1783. It is one of the biggest stars that appears deep garnet coloured and has a magnitude of 4.08.
How to locate Cepheus Constellation
If you can stay awake till late in the midnight, then you can easily find some of its brightest stars at night sky with the help of binoculars. Similarly, if you are lucky enough to reside in a dark sky area, you can witness the luminous Garnet Star.
The truth is that many of Cepheus principle stars can be seen unaided which is a source of fascination for scholars and astronomers. If you are an amateur astronomer then you have got a golden opportunity to witness Cepheus constellation on a beautiful night sky.