Hercules and Serpens Cauda - Downloadable article
Galaxy-filled constellations give way to the Strong Man for a variety show of clusters and nebulae.
March 3, 2009
|This downloadable article is from an Astronomy magazine 45-article series called "Celestial Portraits." The collection highlights all 88 constellations in the sky and explains how to observe each constellation's deep-sky targets. The articles feature star charts, stunning pictures, and constellation mythology. We've put together 11 digital packages. Each one contains four Celestial Portraits articles for you to purchase and download.|
"Hercules and Serpens Cauda" is one of four articles included in Celestial Portraits Package 8.
Early summer months find many observers awaiting the rise of the Milky Way's band. As the galaxy-filled constellations of spring depart, the star density slowly rises with the summer constellations. This effect is most pronounced in the constellation Hercules the Strong Man, which rises a couple hours before the Summer Triangle. The proximity of Hercules to our galaxy's plane results in a constellation rich in clusters and nebulae. To the south is the eastern portion of the constellation Serpens the Serpent. Serpens Cauda (Serpent's Body) is a patchwork of rich starfields and dark nebulae associated with the center of the Milky Way.
At the center of Hercules is its most familiar asterism, the Keystone, a quartet of stars in a well-defined pattern. While the pattern seems to stand out as an associated group, the four stars are quite different. At the southwest corner, Zeta (ζ) Herculis is a modest star only seven times as luminous as the sun and 35 light-years away. At the other corner of the Keystone is Pi (π), more than 500 light-years away and as bright as 500 suns. For viewers in the Northern Hemisphere, the pattern of Hercules is inverted. The legs are to the north and the arms are south of the body. From a dark site, look for a long string of faint stars that spans 25° between Delta (δ) Herculis and the south end of the parallelogram of Lyra. To read the complete article, purchase and download Celestial Portraits Package 8.
|Deep-sky objects in Hercules and Serpens Cauda|
NGC 6058, Abell 2151, NGC 6181, M13 (NGC 6205), IC 4617, NGC 6207, NGC 6210, NGC 6229, Alpha (α) Herculis, Delta (δ) Herculis, M92 (NGC 6341), NGC 6539, NGC 6605, NGC 6604, M16 (NGC 6611), IC 4756