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Aquarius Constellation Facts All Astrologists And Astronomers Adore

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Aquarius is much more than a constellation or a zodiac sign.

Aquarius constellation, also known as Water Bearer, has been attracting and fascinating humans for a long time and now has also attracted the interest of science. Being a zodiac constellation with the title of the oldest documented constellation, the Aquarius constellation is a part of Greek mythology that appears annually in both hemispheres.

Several hidden facts make it an interesting study area for astronomers, and the mythical beliefs fascinate astrologists to keep a close check on this constellation.

Did you know that Beta Aquarii is the brightest star in the Aquarius constellation which is a multiple star!

The Aquarius constellation was first discovered in the second century by Ptolemy, a Greek astronomer. During this long journey, i.e., from the 2nd century to the 21st century, many stories have been created by distinct civilizations related to this constellation, and a few stories have considered it one of the luckiest constellations. The presence of notable stars and other variable stars has adored both astronomers and astrologists, and several studies are continuously undertaken to understand all there is to know about the constellation of Aquarius.

However, these aren’t the only facts that astronomers and astrologists adore, various other reasons also contribute to it. Let's find out about them by digging deeper into the topics related to the elliptical galaxy and irregular dwarf galaxy systems present in the constellation in the northern hemisphere during the fall and in the southern hemisphere in the spring.

The History And Mythology Of The Aquarius Constellation

Understanding the history of the Aquarius constellation is as essential as knowing the facts about it. The word Aquarius signifies ‘water carrier’ or ‘cup bearer’ in Latin and has a long history in Greek mythology.

It was represented in the form of a vase from which a water stream flows to Piscis Austrinus. Aquarius was also the first of the 48 constellations recorded by Ptolemy. The mythology associated with this constellation is phenomenal and a big reason for the level of interest from astronomers.

This constellation received the name of Aquarius because the ancient Greeks considered it to be a part of the Greek god Ganymede, who was believed to be the cup carrier to the gods. Greek mythology had shown Ganymede as a young man who was good-looking, which was said to be the reason for Zeus' fondness of him. The story behind Ganymede is that they took him to Mount Olympus so that he could serve as the gods' cupbearer.

As a reward for this service, he was given eternal youth by the gods. But the myth related to the constellation of Aquarius is not limited only to Greeks, other cultures including the Babylonian astronomers, depict it differently. Those astronomers figured out the shape of God Ea, who was shown with a vessel from which water was overflowing. The Chinese astronomers also took an interest in it and considered the water flowing from the vase as soldiers of the Yu-Lin Army.

Therefore, the structure and stars of this constellation hide many secrets behind them and that's why astronomers and astrologists have a great interest in this field.

The Major Stars In Aquarius

Despite being one of the largest constellations, the Aquarius constellation lacks the presence of bright stars. The two brightest stars present, namely Alpha Aquarii and Beta Aquarii, are yellow-colored giants belonging to spectral categories G0lb and G2lb.

The names of both of these stars reaffirm the providence idea and are believed to signify the king's lucky one and luckiest of the lucky. Because of such reasons, the Aquarius constellation is regarded as the luckiest constellation. We find that both these prominent stars are heading in a direction perpendicular to the Milky Way’s plane. Both are not equally brighter and also differ in magnitude and size. Apart from these stars, there are other notable stars of this constellation having different magnitudes.

The brightest star is Beta Aquarii, also known as Sadalsuud, which has a magnitude level of 2.87. It is even 2046 times brighter than Sun and possesses 497% of the total mass of the Sun. This star has an average surface temperature of approximately 5600 K and is a little bit cooler than Sun. On the other side, Alpha Aquarii or Sadalmelik is the next brightest star in this constellation after Beta Aquarii. It is 2120 times brighter than Sun. However, a great proportion of its light gets emitted in the spectrum’s invisible UV portion.

The apparent magnitude of Alpha Aquarii stands at 2.94. In addition, it has a mass equivalent to 513% of the Sun’s mass and approximately 5300% radius as compared to Sun. Its mean surface temperature is also less than Sun and ranges at 5380 K level. There are several other bright stars present in the Aquarius constellation, including Delta Aquarii, Zeta Aquarii, Gamma Aquarii, Pi Aquarii, and more. Delta Aquarii stands third on the list, Zeta Aquarii stands fourth, Gamma Aquarii fifth, and so on. But the Kappa Aquarii or Situla has the highest apparent magnitude of 5.03.

Deep Sky Objects In Aquarius

Being a constellation at a far-off distance from the plane of the galaxy, the major components of deep-sky objects include galaxies, planetary nebula, and global clusters. Aquarius constellation has three messier objects that are the global clusters; Messier 72, Messier 73, and Messier 2.

Additionally, it's found that the 12 stars of Aquarius do the job of hosting planets and have their own planetary systems. Certain planetary nebulae are also present in Aquarius, namely the Saturn Nebula and Helix Nebula.

Beginning with planetary systems, it's discovered that the constellation of Aquarius includes 12 stars that are known to host planets. Gliese 876, the closest star to Earth and situated only at a distance of 15 light-years, has its planetary system. It is also the earliest red dwarf star found to host planets in Aquarius.

It has a total of four planets, including a terrestrial planet that occupies a mass equivalent to 660% of the total mass of Earth. 91 Aquarii, an orange-colored giant dwarf star, is an extrasolar planet orbiting in the 91 Aquarii system and is situated approximately 148 light-years away from Earth. The primary star is an orange giant with an apparent magnitude of 4.22. Gliese 849 is also a red dwarf star and it's found that a long-period planet, similar to Jupiter, orbits it. In the planetary nebulae, the Saturn Nebula and Helix Nebula are a part of the Aquarius constellation.

Did you know that in ancient Greek culture, Aquarius was linked to the constellation of Aquarius with the cupbearer of the gods, Ganymede!

They named the Saturn Nebula after planet Saturn because of its present superficial resemblance. Originally, it was a star with low mass but it, later on, ejected its different layers into the universe to form a dwarf nebula. It has a magnitude of 8.0 with a radius of around 0.4 light-years.

The Helix Nebula, also known as NGC 7293, is a sort of planetary nebula recorded by Karl Ludwig Harding. This bright planetary nebula is the closest to Earth in its category and is located at a distance of around 650 light-years from Earth. Its radius is approx. 2.87 light-years and possesses a +7.6 level of apparent magnitude. It looks quite similar to that of the Ring Nebula or the Cat’s Eye Nebula. But its physical traits, such as size and age are all identical to the Dumbbell Nebula.

Even in pop culture, this faint nebula is regarded as the God’s Eye and the Eye of Sauron. Global clusters include messier objects and have distinct diameters and radius. Messier 2, one of the oldest global clusters, is at a distance of 55000 light-years from Earth. It comprises 150,000 stars, of which 21 are discovered variable stars. Messier 72 or NGC 6981 is a type of global cluster situated at a distance of 54.57 light-years from Earth and is massive in size.

It includes 43 known variable stars that radiate 2.26 times Sun's luminosity per cubic parsec. Messier 73 or NGC 6994, present at 2500 light-years from Earth, is a prominent pattern of four stars in the constellation of Aquarius. It was identified as a global cluster of four stars that possess some nebulosity, although that nebulosity is still not known.

The brightest star in Aquarius is the yellow supergiant Sadalsuud, also known as Beta Aquarii.

The Size And Comparison Of Aquarius

The constellation of Aquarius is one of the largest constellations that includes 10 primary stars and 97 Bayer stars. It occupies a space of more than 980 square degrees in the sky and is about 2.38% of the total night sky area.

However, the sky is not equally divided between different constellations. Some of them are incredibly large while others are extremely small. Compared to other big constellations, the size of the Aquarius constellation is less, and that's why it is in the 10th position in the 88 modern constellations.

Hydra is the constellation that tops this list and spreads over 1300 square degrees. Next comes the Virgo constellation. It's very simple to locate it compared to other constellations because of its size. Also, unlike the constellation of Aquarius, the Virgo constellation is home to one of the brightest stars, Spica. In the third position, is Ursa Major which is also the biggest northern constellation.

You may have some trouble finding the constellation of Aquarius in the night sky, but for Ursa Major, there are no such problems! It's easy to recognize this constellation and allows northern observers to locate it at any point in the year. After this, Cetus, Hercules, Eridanus, Pegasus, Draco, and Centaurus occupy the remaining positions of the top 10 biggest constellations. Aquarius is also a part of the 15 equatorial constellations and is situated in SQ4, i.e., the fourth quadrant of the Southern Hemisphere.

In astrology, Aquarius has an association with the Age of Aquarius, and we expect that the Age of Aquarius will continue until the year 2597. Another astrological belief linked with Aquarius is that in John, Jesus said that any person who will believe in the man (present in Aquarius symbol) will experience the flow of spiritual water out of their body.

The Location Of The Aquarius Constellation

The location of the Aquarius constellation can be easily identified as it's the 10th biggest constellation and spreads to more than 980 square degrees.

But the presence of a few bright stars makes it difficult for individuals to see it with the naked eye. Using proper instruments is necessary to get a clear view of this constellation. Here is a list of the location of the Aquarius constellation:

Visibility: between the range of 60 degrees to -90 degrees

Right ascension: 22.70 hours

Declination: -10.19 degrees

The right time to watch: throughout October at around 9 pm every evening

The Aquarius constellation is visible in the Southern Hemisphere during the spring period, whereas in the Northern Hemisphere, it can be seen during fall. It's easier to locate this constellation in the sky as it is present near other types of water-related constellations, such as Pisces or The Fish, Eridanus or The River, Cetus or the Whale, and Delphinus or the Dolphin. They are collectively considered as the sky's sea or water section.

You will notice that it appears to be in the Southern sky when watched from northern latitudes. On the other hand, it is located high in the sky of the northern region if looked from the south direction of the equator. The part in which this constellation appears is deeper and darker. Also, the stars look faint in this region. The brightest star in this 'Sea' region is Fomalhaut present in Piscis Austrinus. You will be able to figure out a zig-zag line of bright stars running from Aquarius to Fomalhaut. Fomalhaut is also a single bright star of the celestial Sea and is often regarded as the Loneliest Star.

Noticing the pattern of bright stars can also make it easier for you to view the Aquarius constellation. In case the sky becomes extremely dark, then you can see a small asterism of other stars present in Aquarius.

When viewed from Earth, we can observe that the sun moves from the Aquarius constellation’s front during the period of 16 February to 12 March. But this is from the point of the constellation and not the Aquarius sign. In terms of astrology, the location of Aquarius is there. It's believed that from 20 January to 18 February, the Sun appears in the zodiac sign Aquarius.

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