Aquarius


Aquarius


English nameWater Bearer

Major
stars
alpha AquariiSadalmelikmagn. 3,2RA: 22h 05m 47.03sDec: -00 19' 11.4"
beta AquariiSadalsuudmagn. 3,1RA: 21h 31m 33.54sDec: -05 34' 16.2"
delta AquariiSkatmagn. 3,5RA: 22h 54m 39.02sDec: -15 49' 14.9"

DescriptionConstellation of the zodiac, through which the Sun transits from the middle of February to the middle of March. It is to the south of Pegasus, between Cetus and Capricornus.

M2Among the interesting objects of the constellation there are: two globular clusters, M2 and M72, the most notable of which is certainly the first one (reproduced here on the right), that appears to binoculars as an out-of-focus spot; and two planetary nebulas, the Saturn Nebula (NGC 7009), so called because its shape remembers that one of Saturn, and the Helical Nebula (NGC 7293), which in long-exposured photos clearly show two circles of superimposed gas.


Mythology
and history
Greeks identified the Aquarius with Ganymede, the most beautiful boy ever lived on the face of the Earth: so much beautiful that the king of the gods himself, Zeus, fell in love with him and, changed into an eagle (remembered in the near constellation of Aquila), abducted him and took him on the Olympus. In the celestial palace Ganymede became the cupbearer of the gods, responsible of pouring out the divine nectar, the ambrosia.

According to another version, this constellation was identified with Deucalion, the son of Prometheus escaped from the downpour: for this reason he is withdrawn in the action to upset a pitcher of water. Such version was brought by Julius Caesar Germanicus.


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