Andromeda

Mythology

The most commonly known story relating o this group of stars comes from the Greeks. Andromeda was the daughter of the King and Queen of Ethiopia. They are represented by the nearby constellations Cassiopeia and Cepheus. As the story goes, Cassiopeia, who was a very vain woman, bragged that she was the most beautiful living thing. This enraged the sea nymphs who sent a sea monster to punish the town. The only thing that would save them was for Cassiopeia to sacrifice her daughter Andromeda to the sea monster.

In the end, Cassiopeia relents and chains her daughter to a rock by the sea and leavers her to her fate. This time, though, fate was kind and before the sea monster could devour the girl, Perseus happened along on Pegasus returning from slaying Medusa. Perseus saw Andromeda and instantly fell in love with her. He slew the sea monster and carried Andromeda away to be his wife.

The Arabs saw this group of stars as a seal. But it is known most commonly as the maiden in chains.

For the Observer

Autumn and Winter Skies

Alpha Andromada, Alpharatz ( 00h 08m +29° 05' ) is a double star is a second magnitude star with an 11th magnitude companion. Alpharatz is a blue-white B9 class star, 130 light years away. Its actual luminosity is about 200 times that of the Sun. Alpharatz crosses the meridian 9PM on Nov 8th.

Beta Andromeda, Mirach , ( 01h 10m +35° 37' ) is a 2.1 magnitude star, yellow-orange class M0. Mirach is a giant star about 75 times more luminous than the Sun. The star is about 75 light years distant and has two 12th magnitude optical companions. Mirach transits the meridian on November 24th.

Gamma Andromeda, Almach, I( 02h 04m +42° 20' ) s said to be one of the most striking star systems in the sky. Almach is a yellow K3 class star, 250 light years distant. Its magnitude is 2.3 Almach is actually a triple system, having two companions of greenish-blue companions of magnitudes 5.5 and 6.3. It is the contrast of the yellow and greenish-blue color that makes this system so beautiful in a telescope. Almach has a December 7th transit.

M31,NGC 224 ( 0h 40 m.0 +41° 00' ) the Great Galaxy in Andromeda. In relatively dark skies it can be seen with the unaided eye as a faint fuzzy patch. At a distance of 2.1 million light years, it is the most distant object we can see unaided. Seen without a telescope, the galaxy is about twice the diameter of the full moon. A small telescope will reveal a beautiful spiral shape.


Copyright © 1995 - 2008
Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator
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