Friday, November 25, 2011

Cetus the Sea Monster

Our hero Perseus (remember him), was flying through the air, borne on his winged sandals. He was feeling quite proud of himself since he just killed Medusa earlier in the day. Suddenly he hears a scream and looks down to see a young maiden chained to a rock about to be devoured by a sea monster. Perseus thinks, "Man, does it get any better than this?" Not only did he kill Medusa, but now he can save a maiden in distress.

Perseus yells down to Andromeda to close her eyes and he pulls out Medusa's bloody head. He shows the head to the sea monster who instantly turns to stone, cracks of his own monstrous weight, and falls to the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again. Perseus swoops down to unchain Andromeda, and they fly away to live happily ever after.

The constellation Cetus the sea monster can be found basking on the shores of Eridanus, the river constellation. Look for a group of stars that look like a recliner chair to the right of Perseus and below Pegasus. What about Pegasus? Tune in next week...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Andromeda the Chained Maiden

Where we left off in our Fall Star Saga...

King Cepheus, as punishment for his wife Cassiopeia's vanity, just agreed to chain his only daughter Andromeda to a rock in the ocean in order to appease the sea god Poseidon (see posts below for the full story). Andromeda, quite a beauty in her own right, had no choice but to become a sea biscuit to Poseidon's lurking pet sea monster, Cetus, in order to save her nation from a giant tsunami. The king's men stoically sailed Andromeda to the rock and chained her securely. Minutes later the mighty sea monster emerged from the briny deep. Andromeda screamed! Who on Olympus could possibly save her?!?
Tune in next time for more on the fantastic fall saga.

The easiest way to characterize the constellation of Andromeda is as two long legs. Two stretches of four stars emerge from one corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. In the fall, the
legs jut out to the left of the Great Square and lie almost parallel to the horizon. Dimmer stars above and below the legs mark her arms, but these can only be seen under excellent conditions. The great Andromeda Galaxy can be spied with a pair of binoculars above her right hip.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cepheus the King

Cassiopeia's husband, Cepheus the King, was enjoying a quiet afternoon nap when the great god of the sea, Poseidon strode in to the castle. In a rage Poseidon said, "King Cepheus! Your wife's vanity has gone too far. She has offended the gods and must be punished."

The King, waking up quickly, begged for mercy and eventually moved the god to a compromise. "Being a fair and angry god," Poseidon said, "I will give you two choices for your punishment. Punishment A) I will send down a tremendous tidal wave on your land killing everyone and everything."

"Gulp," said Cepheus. "That's not much of a compromise..."

"Or," the god continued, "Punishment B) take your one and only daughter Andromeda, chain her to the big rock in the sea, and let my sea monster eat her."

Well, Cepheus didn't have much of choice. Either way his daughter was doomed and at least he could save his kingdom for total destruction. As much as it hurt him to do this, Cepheus agreed to Punishment B.

To be continued...

You can find Cepheus tonight high in the northern sky just to the left of Cassiopeia. His dimmer stars look like an upside-down house.

Thanks to Rick Tiffini for his picture of Cepheus.