Pegasus, the Flying Horse


A good constellation to view now is Pegasus, the Flying Horse. It's one of the largest constellations in our sky, and the best time to observe it is September and October.

It's just east and slightly below Cassiopeia with the Andromeda galaxy between them. The story is that Pegasus rode this flying horse to save Andromeda from Cetus the Sea Monster. To find it, look in the NE for the Milky Way, then look to the right toward the east.

Imagine Pegasus flying upside down from our view, because that's how it appears. Look for the big square shape of semi-bright stars as a diagonal with stars on the top, bottom, right and left. This is his body. His front legs are to the right of the top star, and his head comes off the right star. His legs come off the left star that actually forms the Andromeda constellation with the galaxy just above the middle of it.

The four stars that make up the Great Square of Pegasus are interesting to look at. The star on the left is Alpheratz which is Andromeda's head. The top middle star is Scheat, the right star is Markab, and the lower center star is Algenib. These names are Arabic to illustrate different parts of the horse. Scheat means shoulder or upper arm, Markab means saddle, and Algenib means the side or the wing.

These stars are different colors and distances from us. Alpheratz is blue-white and is 97 light years from us, Scheat is red and 196 light years, Markab is bluish-white and 133 light years, and Algerib is deep light years away. It's always amazing how stars so far apart can form a constellation, but when they're so bright it can easily happen. This is an easy constellation for find in the ENE.

There are very few naked-eye stars in the center of this large constellation, making it very easy for us to identify. It contains a total of 15 stars making the upper and right body parts that I told you about. He's one of the largest constellations in our sky. When you look at him, remember that he's upside down and his back legs on the left are the Andromeda constellation.

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