Pegasus


Pegasus


English namePegasus

Major
stars
alpha PegasiMarkabmagn. 2,6RA: 23h 04m 45.65sDec: +15 12' 19.0"
beta PegasiScheatmagn. 2,6RA: 23h 03m 46.43sDec: +28 04' 57.8"
gamma PegasiAlgenibmagn. 2,9RA: 00h 13m 14.16sDec: +15 11' 00.8"
epsilon PegasiEnifmagn. 2,5RA: 21h 44m 11.16sDec: +09 52' 30.0"
eta PegasiMatarmagn. 3,1RA: 22h 43m 00.14sDec: +30 13' 16.5"

DescriptionThe constellation of Pegasus is the seventh one of the whole sky in order of extension, but it doesn't contain any particularly bright stars. Its characteristic feature is a big square, whose angles are shown by stars of second and third magnitude, although only three of them belong to Pegasus: the fourth one is the first star of Andromeda and once it was also called delta Pegasi.

The brightest star of the constellation, however, is not a member of the big square, but it is in the southern part: it is Enif, an orange supergiant, approximately 500 light-years away.

M15Near Enif there is also the globular cluster M15, visible with binoculars as an out-of-focus circular spot: looking at it with a telescope, you can see its center, where the stars thicken. M15 is 30.000 light-years away from the Earth: since it is a strong source of X-rays, it very probably contains a black hole.


Mythology
and history
Pegasus was the winged horse born from Medusa's blood, when she was beheaded by Perseus. It was the mount of the hero Bellerophontes, until this latter, wanting to compete with the gods and to reach the sky, was punished by Zeus: the king of the gods, in fact, sent a horse-fly to sting the winged horse which, become restive, unsaddled Bellerophontes and crippled him.

In the sky it is represented only the anterior part of the animal: the square is the body, the two lines of stars that depart from Scheat are the anterior legs, the line that begins from Markab and finishes with Enif draws the neck and the face (in Arab, Enif means "nose").


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