Monday, October 8, 2012


This small constellation is one of my favorites to find in the summer sky. It can only be seen on very clear nights through the summer haze - a rarity for city dwellers.  But now that the crisper, fall skies are here, you may get lucky and see it.  The Dolphin looks like a small diamond-shape of four stars with an extra star off to the side for a tail.  In fall, it's just above the longest side of the Summer Triangle. With some imagination you may see a faint dolphin, arching its back, jumping out of heavens.  Of course, it's upside-down too!

Delphinus was said to be the messenger of Poseidon. Delphinus won great acclaim for saving Arion’s life (Poseidon’s son) when his ship was attacked at sea. The ancients attributed the Dolphin with great wisdom (I wonder how they knew dolphins were so smart), and also a love for humans. Dolphins were a sailor’s best friends and often got shipwrecked folks out of trouble.

Delphinus also helped Poseidon get a date from a the beautiful Nereid named Amphitrite by delivering her a message in the Atlas Mountains.  I'm not sure how this dolphin-gram reached her since he couldn't exactly swim it there! 

The two brightest stars in Delphinus have an interesting history. They are:

SUALOCIN and ROTANEV - both blueish-white

These stars are the reverse spelling of the name Nicolaus Venator who was an assistant to the Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi – the discoverer of the first asteroid. What a creative way to get your name in history.