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Constellation Research - Aquarius

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AquariusOverviewAquarius is a constellation of the zodiac, situated between Capricorns and Pisces. Its name is Latin for "water-bearer" or "cup-bearer", and its symbol is a representation of water.Aquarius is one of the oldest of the recognized constellations along the zodiac (the sun's apparent path). As a water-carrier, his fame goes back to the Babylonian

empire where his image was carved in stones. Vital information about Aquarius was always included in the ancient star catalogs of Ptolemy, Aratos, and Eudoxos. It is found in a region often called theSea due to its profusion of constellations with watery associations such as Cetus the whale, Pisces the twin fish,PiscisAustrinusand Eridanus the river.

Origin and MythThe water bearer represented by Aquarius is the Ganymede. According to the Greek mythology, Ganymede was the most beautiful youth on the Earth. He was the son of the king of troy. According to the story, once Zeus, the king of Greek Gods spotted Ganymede while the latter was attending to his father's flocks. When Zeus saw the beautiful and handsome youth, he became enchanted with his looks. Therefore, he took a form of the bird and whisked the youth away, towards heaven. Zeus didn't want this beautiful youth to remain a mere mortal hence, took him to heaven and immortalized him. From then on, the Ganymede became the water bearer to the Gods in the heaven. On the other hand, according to some myths, Aquarius represents great flood as it is located among other water constellations like the Pisces and the Capricorn. Also, the time in which this constellation is viewed coincides with the rainy season and hence, it is symbolized by the water bearer or the water carrier. The water bearer is also believed to be the one who provided water to the farmlands in Egypt. Aquarius has also been identified as the pourer of the waters that flooded the Earth in the ancient Greek version of the Great Flood myth. As such, the constellation Eridanus the river is sometimes identified as a river being poured by Aquarius. However, in spite of different cultures and theories, the one mentioned above (related to the Greek mythology) is the most popular and widely applicable.

SignificanceThe Aquarius constellation is of specific importance as it is the oldest constellation known to people. The references and information about this constellation can be found in the works of Ptolemy. Aquarius is best known to be in the zodiacs, the ring of constellations that lines the ecliptic, which is the apparent path of the Sun across the celestial sphere over the course of the year. In astronomy, the Sun is considered to be in the sign Aquarius from January 20 to February 19, and in astrology, from February 15 to March 14. The constellation is widely associated with the qualities of refreshment, and subsequently youth. The rainy season was regarded as a period in which the land was refreshed by water, which had purifying qualities to cleanse away old sins and prepare the land for new creativity. Our calendar still honours this period as one fit for purification and cleansing, with February named after 'Februa' the Roman festival of purification. The month was marked for activities connected to cleansing the home and the soul, culminating in a hilltop ceremony where priests performed purification rites on young women by striking them with a goatskin thong to ensure fertility and easy childbirth

ObservationThe autumn or the month of October is considered as the best time in the year to view this constellation. The prominent stars present in the constellation Aquarius are Alpha Aquarii, Beta Aquarii, Gamma Aquarii, R Aquarii and Zeta Aquarii. The Saturn Nebula is one of the biggest planetary nebula observed in the sky. When viewed with a telescope, it can be clearly seen to resemble Saturn. It is difficult to view the Aquarius constellation with your naked eye as it is one of the faintest constellations in the sky. This constellation can only be viewed with the help of a powerful horoscope.Artistic Depiction of Aquarius

Ptolemy listed the stars in the shoulder, face and left hand as exerting an influence like Saturn and Mercury. This includes Albali, a 4th magnitude star in the left hand of the figure. Of the remaining stars, those in the stream of water are like Saturn and Jupiter, and those in the thighs like Mercury and Saturn. The latter includes Ancha, traditionally located on the hips. The 3rd magnitude star Skat is situated on the right shin but is considered to have a Saturn/Jupiter nature because of its proximity to the stream.

Notable StarsAlpha Aquarii (Sadalmelik) - A giant star with a diameter perhaps 100 times that of the Sun. It is located 760 light years from Earth and shines at magnitude 2.95. Beta Aquarii (Sadalsund) - The brightest star of the constellation, shining at magnitude 2.9.Its computed distance is about 600 light years from Earth. Gamma Aquarii (Sadachbia) - A spectroscopic binary with a period of 58.1 days. It is located 158 light years from Earth and shines at magnitude 3.8. These figures lead to an actual luminosity of about 25 suns. Maybe you noticed that the three stars described above share similar names. Their Arabic names translate into "The luck of the king", "The luck of lucks", and "The lucky star of hidden things". The origin of the names is quite lost to history, but the next times you wish on a star choose one of these three. Zeta Aquarii - Zeta is the central star of the of the Yshaped asterism that makes up the water jar of Aquarius. It is a close pair of 4th-magnitude stars 1.7 arcseconds apart. R Aquarii - An interesting variable star that reaches the 6th magnitude at maximum and has a period of little over a year. R Aquarii is a symbiotic star system, an interacting pair consisting of a variable red giant and a white dwarf companion.

Notable Deep-Sky ObjectsM2 - A bright globular cluster visible with the naked eye on a dark sky. Through binoculars or a small telescope it appears as a small hazy patch with a diameter of 7 arcminutes. M72 - A faint globular cluster located in the western part of the constellation. It is unimpressive in small telescopes, appearing as a pale nebulous patch of light. M73- This object is a small asterism composed of four stars with magnitudes between 10.5 and 12. Seen with a small telescope M73 looks like a tiny nebulosity, and this is probably why Messier included this object in his catalog. NGC 7293 (The Helix Nebula) - The closest of all planetary nebulae, lying at a distance of 400 light years from Earth. To find the nebula, start from Fomalhaut (Alpha PiscisAustrinus) and move your telescope 11 degrees northwest to 5th-magnitude 47 Aquarii. From this star slide two degrees east to Upsilon Aquarii, and you're almost there. The Helix is just one degree west of this star. The Saturn Nebula - One of the brightest planetary nebulae in the sky, first observed by Sir William Herschel in 1782. It was named the Saturn Nebula because when observed with larger telescopes its shape resembles that of the planet Saturn.

Notable Meteor Showersy The Eta Aquarids shower is active between April 21 and May 12, from a radiant located in the north central portion of the constellation. Maximum activity occurs on May 5th, when the shower produces about 20 meteors per hour for observers in the northern hemisphere and 50 for observers in the southern hemisphere. The shower of the Delta Aquarids is divided into two sub-showers separated by 15 degrees of declination.The southern Delta Aquarids are active between July 14 and August 18, with a maximum of 20 meteors per hour on July 29th. The duration of the northern Delta Aquarids shower covers the period of July 16 to September 10. The maximum occurs on August 13th when ten meteors per hour can be seen on a dark sky, away from city lights. The Iota Aquarids also show two distinct showers. The southern Iota Aquarids occur during July 1 to September 18, and the August 6th maximum produces about eight meteors per hour. The northern Iota Aquarids have duration from August 11 to September 10, with maximum activity on August 25th when the shower produces five to ten meteors per hour.



Astrological perspective of constellation AquariusAquarius is one of the oldest constellations in the Zodiac.In astrology, Aquarius is considered a "masculine", positive (extrovert) sign. It is also considered an air sign and is one of four fixed signs. Aquarius has been traditionally ruled by the planet Saturn, and, since its discovery, Uranus has been considered a modern ruler of this sign. Being the eleventh sign of the zodiac, Aquarius is associated with the astrological eleventh house. Some Tropical astrologers believe that the 20th century is the Age of Aquarius while majority of astrologers think we will enter the Aquarian age in the 22nd century. It would be interesting to know that each age is approximately 2200 years long.

Aquarius Constellation Quick FactsThe following are some quick facts about the constellation Aquarius.y y y y y y y y y y

Abbreviation: Aqr Genitive: Aquarii Area acquired in sky: 980 square degrees Right ascension: 23 h Declination: -15 degrees Latitudes visible at: between +65 degrees and -90 degrees The best time to view: 21:00 p.m. in the month of October Nearest star: EZ Aquarii (11.3 light years away) Brightest star: Beta Aquarii (magnitude of 2.90) Largest star: The Alpha Aquarii

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