All About The Aquarius Constellation
The Aquarius constellation or the “Water Bearer” is the 10th largest constellation. It is one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac, which means that the sun, moon, and other planets frequently pass through its orbit. The zodiac signs are derived from constellations and are closely associated with the earth's heavenly travel.
So, horoscope dates are based on when the sun crosses paths with these constellations, right? Actually, wrong. Astrology and astronomy are different systems, and astrological signs are not as simple as you might think. The sun passes in front of the Aquarius constellation from February 16 to March 12, but the star sign is marked between January 20 and February 18. Thus, the constellation of a zodiac refers to that part of the sky, whereas the zodiac signs depend on the seasonal position of the sun.
What Does The Aquarius Constellation Look Like?
The Aquarius constellation is shaped like a man pouring a stream of water into the mouth of the Southern Fish, which is the Piscis Austrinus constellation. If the sky is dark enough, you can see the asterism of the water jar, the stars beneath which represent water pouring out of the jar.
Location Of The Aquarius Constellation:
In the fourth quadrant of the southern hemisphere, at the sky's dome, just between Capricornus and Pisces, is- the Aquarius! This is the "watery" part of the sky, also called the "sea." The stars of this region are very faint and form wave-like patterns; therefore, early stargazers labeled it the celestial sea.
Neighbors of the Aquarius constellation include Pisces the Fish, Cetus the whale, Eridaws the River, Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish, and Delphinus the Dolphin- all watery constellations!
By Till Credner - Own work: AlltheSky.com
Looking For The Aquarius Constellation?
Because it doesn't have many bright stars, the Aquarius constellation can be hard to spot. Its stars are not brighter than 3.0, which is quite low. Moreover, it is ecliptic and can be seen from both the northern and southern hemispheres, so you can see it right from wherever you are! How cool is that?
Which hemisphere are you in?
If you're in the north, you'll see the Aquarius constellation on an Autumn evening in the southern part of the sky. And in spring in the southern hemisphere, the constellation is just overhead or very high up in the north. The ideal time to stargaze is early October around 10 pm or early November around 8 pm. You can use the Great Square of Pegasus as a guide.
Notable Stars Of The Aquarius Constellation:
There are 22 main stars in the Aquarius constellation, including Ancha, Bosna, Bunda, Lionrock, Sadachbia, Sadalmelik, Sadalsuud, Situla, and Skat. Of all these, the brightest star is the beta, while the EZ Aquarii, at just 11.3 light-years from the earth, is the nearest to us.
The Beta Aquarii or Sadalsuud is the brightest star of the Aquarius constellation at a magnitude of 2.9. The yellow supergiant is 600 light-years away from our solar system. Its name means “luck of lucks” or “brightest luck of lucks” It is a multiple star system with beta Aquarii A as the primary along with two other components. It is often associated with good fortune and spring.
Alpha Aquarii or Sadalmelik means “luck of the king” in Arabic. This star has an apparent magnitude of 2.9 and is 600 light-years far away from the earth.
The Sadachbia, or "luck of the homes," is a spectroscopic binary star with a magnitude of 3.8. It is almost 158 light-years from the earth.
This is the 3rd brightest star of the Aquarius constellation and even has a meteor shower associated with it- the Delta Aquariids. The shower is visible in the southern hemispheres from mid-July to mid-August and in the northern hemisphere from July 16 to September 10. The delt Aquarii is even part of the Ursa Major moving group.
Sadaltager, or "luck of the merchants," is a binary star with a magnitude of 4.42. It is somewhere near the center of the water jar asterism. It is 103 light-years away from the earth.
Another cool star in the Aquarius constellation is the TRAPPIST-1, 40 light-years away from the earth, with seven exoplanets orbiting its habitable zone. The habitable zone is the part where water could exist.
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Meteor Showers Associated With The Aquarius Constellation:
There are four meteor showers associated with the Aquarius constellation- namely:
- March Aquariids
- Eta Aquariids
- Delta Aquariids
- Lota Aquariids
Deep Sky Objects In The Aquarius Constellation:
Deep-sky objects are astronomical objects that can be categorized as nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies. This constellation hosts 3 Messier objects, two planetary nebulae, and several galaxies.
Messier Objects Of The Aquarius Constellation:
This 13B year-old globular cluster has 150,000 stars alone! It is 37,500 light-years away from the earth and has an average magnitude of around 6.3.
The messier 72 is also a globular cluster in the Aquarius constellation, but it is relatively young with several blue giants. It 53,000 light-years away from the solar system and has a visual magnitude of 9.3, with its brightest star at 14.2.
Messier 73 is an asterism of 4 stars that are seemingly close together but not really connected. They’re evening moving in different directions.
Planetary Nebulae In The Aquarius Constellation:
This nebula looks like Saturn because of its Saturn-like ring. It is one of the brightest nebulae with a magnitude of 11.5 and is twenty times brighter than the sun.
The Helix is the closest nebula to our earth at a distance of just 400 light-years. It is sometimes called the "Eye of God" due to its appearance.
Galaxies Of The Aquarius Constellation:
Aquarius Dwarf Galaxy:
This is one of the rare galaxies that displays a blueshift. It is slowly moving towards the Milky Way Galaxy at around 137 km/s.
Atoms For Peace:
This elliptical galaxy has a magnitude of 12.7 and resembles an electron orbiting around the nucleus- hence, the name! It is 220M years old and hosts more than 500 ultra-luminous star clusters.
History And Mythology Of The Aquarius Constellation:
The Aquarius constellation was introduced by Ptolemy, but many had known about it even long before that. It is believed to have some sort of connection with rain. Moreover, ancient people have associated various myths with the Aquarius constellation.
The Greeks believed that Zeus sent a flood to punish people for their wrongdoings except for Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha, who saved themselves by building and taking shelter in an ark. Ring a bell? Yup, this story strongly parallels Noah's Ark from the Old testament.
Hapi Of The Nile:
Ancient Egyptians identify the Aquarius constellation as Hapi, the god of the Nile River, who was responsible for distributing water. They also claim that the water bearer is holding a rod to measure the Nile’s depth.
The Great One:
Babylonians see the Aquarius constellation as GU.LA or God Ea, "the great one" who was often pictured with a vessel in hand.