Pisces, one of the dimmest constellations of the zodiac, lays just north of the celestial equator. It is located east of the constellation Aquarius, south of Andromeda and Pegasus, west of Aries and north of Cetus. For stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere, Pisces is visible before midnight from August through February. Its highlights include a circlet of stars marking the western fish's head and the 10th magnitude spiral galaxy M74.
The sun travels through Pisces from March 13 to April 19. This span of time includes the first day of spring, also known as the vernal equinox. In astronomical terminology, the vernal and autumnal equinoxes are defined as the coordinates in the sky where the sun's path (the ecliptic) crosses the celestial equator.
Over 2,000 years ago, the vernal equinox was located farther east in the constellation Aries. This gave rise to the term "first point in Aries". The reason this point has shifted westward over the centuries is a phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes. The earth's rotational axis wobbles like a top with respect to the distant stars. One cycle or wobble takes 26,000 years. Six centuries from now, the vernal equinox will shift westward into the constellation Aquarius. Adherents of astrology will be interested to know this will mark the official beginning of the age of Aquarius.Learn More
Betelgeuse is located on the shoulder of the Orion constellation and is one of the brightest stars in the sky. It is classified as a supernova and is predicted to explode within the next million years. Because it is 640 light years away, Betelgeuse is too far for its eventual explosion to cause any damage to Earth.Full Answer >
The constellation Cancer has five stars: Acubens (Alpha Cnc), Altarf (Beta Cnc), Asellus Borealis (Gamma Cnc), Asellus Australis (Delta Cnc) and Tegmen (Zeta 1 Cnc). Cancer also contains two Messier objects: the M44 (Beehive cluster), a small star cluster containing 50 stars, and the M67, another open star cluster.Full Answer >
The constellation Leo is visible most nights of the year to stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere. Leo rises before midnight starting in November and is visible in the evening sky through the following July. August is the only month of the year when Leo is not visible at night.Full Answer >
The stars in the Big Dipper are all different distances from Earth, which affects the time it takes the light to travel. The constellation's most distant is Alkaid; its light takes 210 years to reach Earth. From Megrez, the closest star, the light takes 63 years to each Earth.Full Answer >