All About The Aries Constellation
Ever wondered what Aries a zodiacal constellation looks like in the sky? That's what we will be answering in this article. You will learn about which celestial objects are within this Constellation's confines and mythological stories associated with this Constellation. Aries Constellation is recognized as an ancient constellation and is known as Ram. However, some cultures identify it with their own mythological stories and recognize it differently from the Ram. It’s also recognized in astronomy as a zodiacal constellation as the sun passes through its boundaries.
Aries The Ram
Since it is classified as an ancient constellation, its name and earliest depiction come from the Babylonians. In the Babylonian culture, it was represented as a ram. However, this star pattern is depicted differently from the Babylonians. For instance, in the Marshall Islands, they see it like a porpoise. In China, it is seen as twin inspectors. The Hindu culture is depicted as twin Vedic Gods, and the Polynesian cultures also recognize this Constellation; however, they see it a little different.
Who discovered Aries the Ram:
Ptolemy was the first Greek astronomer who was able to catalog it. In the 2nd century, he cataloged it in his Almagest.
Where and when can you see it?
This Constellation resides in the Northern Hemisphere, where you can see it during the late autumn and early winter months in the northern hemisphere.
An easy yet definite way to find this Constellation is through finding the Pleiades star cluster, as the Pleiades stands out. Seeing the cluster makes it easier to find the Aries constellation as you know that Aries constellation is located next to the Pleiades. Due to the Constellation's shape and lack of high magnitude stars, such as Polaris in the Ursa Minora, it is hard to identify the Constellation on its own without the help of Pleiades.
Looking for constellations, you require a dark sky or a dark place where the stars shine brightly and can be seen easily. Hence, we would emphasize the tactic of finding a dark sky for stargazing, as it provides a better view when looking at the stars.
By Till Credner - Own work: AlltheSky.com
The pattern of Aries constellation:
The International Astronomical Union has released a map highlighting various properties of the stars and clusters surrounding them. The first thing to note in the diagram is the blue line that crosses the Constellation, also known as the ecliptic, representing the sun's path. In case the sun's route passes through the Constellation, that makes it a zodiacal constellation.
Neighboring Stars and Constellations:
You can see the Triangulum above the Aries Constellation and the Triangulum galaxy. On the left side of the Triangulum, we have Pisces. It is often hard to find Pisces as the stars are rather faint. And as mentioned before, about the star magnitude, the smaller the number of the magnitude, the brighter it will be. Especially in Pisces, most of the stars are of 5th and 6th magnitude, making them faint and harder to see. Aries stars stand out when you compare them to the magnitude of the Piscean stars. The Pleiades will be the main star you will use to find Aries; hence, keep an eye out for the Pleiades once you've identified the Alpha star through the Pleiades. You can easily find the Aries Constellation. Please note that constellations are not just patterns of stars; in fact, they are a cumulative bunch of stars inside the Constellation boundary.
In the diagram showed above, you can notice the white area that is associated with Aries. Hence any star falling inside these parameters is a part of the Constellation. Aries is surrounded on two sides by various constellations such as Perseus, Triangulum, and Cassiopeia are just above the Aries constellation. You can also use the arrow-like shape of the Cassiopeia to point you towards the Aries constellation. Taurus and Orion have also been placed nearby the Aries Constellation. These are some guides and strategies towards finding the Aries Constellation.
The Cluster Pleiades:
This cluster of stars uniquely identifiable in the sky is also known as the "Seven-Sisters star."
Here is a star map of all the celestial objects and bodies you can see within the Aries Constellation. This map provides in-depth detail of all the celestial bodies available either inside the Aries Constellation or even outside it. In this map, you can notice the red spots that are all galaxies. You can easily see them in the autumn season. The autumn sky is the best time to find galaxies as we, the earth, are oriented away from the milky way, allowing distinct galaxies to shine through.
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Galaxies located near Aries Constellation:
Circled in the picture below are the galaxies that are located near the Aries Constellation. Let's look at these Constellations in detail:
- NGC 772 near Triangulum is an unbarred spiral galaxy. It is 130 million light-years away and is estimated to be 200,000 light-years in diameter, and is located in the lower region of the Aries Constellation.
- NGC 1156 is a smaller galaxy as compared to the NGC 772. It is 25 million light-years away and is known as the irregular galaxy as it doesn’t have any shape to it.
- NGC 972 is a spiral galaxy that is estimated to be 70 million light-years away and is on top of the Aries constellation. It has a unique color to it as the hydrogen gas reacts towards some nearby new stars.
- NGC 697 is a spiral galaxy and is estimated to be 2.73 million light-years away. It is situated at the lower end of the Aries Constellation.
What is the magnitude of the stars?
For Aries, almost all of the stars are of second or third magnitude. It is shaped as a curved line, which makes it difficult to find. Hence we suggest looking at places with a darker sky to see all the stars. The star magnitude is studied as the smaller the number, the brighter it is. Hence the stars that form the Aries Constellation are not too faint as they belong to a low magnitude.
Major Stars in Aries:
1. (Alpha Arietis) Hamal:
Hamal is the 48th brilliantly shining star amidst the sky and is the most shining star in the Aries Constellation. It is 66 light-years away and has a varying magnitude that varies around 2.04 to 1.98. The name comes from the Arab descent ras al hamal, which means Ram's head, while hamal means lamb.
2. (Beta Arietis) Sheratan:
This is a spectroscopic binary and white sequence star that is 59.6 distance in light-years away. It has a magnitude of 2.64. The name originated from Arab descent, known as "as-saratan," meaning two signs, referring to the spring equinox, that is identified combined with Gamma Arietis many years ago.
3. (Gamma Arietis) Mesarthim:
The tripartite star system was once known since the “First star in Aries” as it was closer to the spring equinox and more visible. Gamma Arietis comprises two A-type key-sequence asteroids with a magnitude of 4.83 and 4.75, and the third component is of 9.6 magnitudes K dwarf star. This galaxy is a hundred and sixty light-years away roughly.
4. (Delta Arietis) Obtain:
This star is also referred to as Botein; the name derived from Arab "Butain," which means "belly." Its magnitude is approximately 4.35, and in diameters, it's much larger than the sun, almost 13 times longer than the sun's diameter. It is 168 light-years away.
5. (c Arietis) Bharani/ 41 Arietis:
This star is also called the c Arietis, is 160 light-years away and has a magnitude of 3.61. The name is derived from Hindu astrology. A second lunar house is known as the sky's division.
6. Epsilon Arietis:
This is a dual star consisting of two A-type stars with a magnitude of 5.5 and 5.2. 4.63 is the magnitude of these twin stars in combination.
According to Greek mythology, Aries is recognized by the golden Ram who saved Phrixus, taking him to the Colchis. He then sacrificed the Ram to the Gods and placed the golden fleece in the temple. Phrixus had a sister named Helle, who were both hated by their mother-in-law. The Queen intentionally brought the state to the brink of famine to ask the people to sacrifice the children to the Gods. After which, she would imply that the kids had to be sacrificed to the Gods. However, when set to be offered, the cloud nymph Nephele, the children's birth mother, sent a winged gold fleeced Ram to protect the children and bring them to safety. Helle couldn't survive the journey and fell off the Ram and sank in Dardanelles. Hence the strait was renamed in Helle's memory, now known as Hellespont or Sea of Helle.
Constellation Aries can be found in the sky with the help of the Pleiades. It forms a curved line with stars Alpha and beta visible. It is surrounded by multiple constellations and is part of the zodiacal constellations as the sun passes through it. The brightest stars in the Constellation are Hamal, Sheratan, and Mesarthim.