Truly the queen of the northern sky, the Cassiopeia constellation is one of the most easily located star formations. She is especially beautiful during the month of October. To find Cassiopeia, look north for the iconic “W” shaped asterism created by her 5 brightest stars. This is the queen seated on her throne.
The constellation contains several objects including the clusters Messier 52 and Messier 103, the Heart Nebula and the Soul Nebula, Cassiopeia A, and the White Rose Cluster. The brightest star in the constellation is Schedar, Alpha Cassiopeiae. There is one meteor shower associated with Cassiopeia and that is the Perseid meteor shower.
Right Ascension: 12:50
Diameter (°): 14
Area (square °): 598
Opposition: Oct 07
Size Rank: 25th
Brightness Rank: 28th
Major stars in Cassiopeia
Schedar (Shedir) – α Cassiopeiae (Alpha Cassiopeiae)
Caph – β Cassiopeiae (Beta Cassiopeiae)
γ Cassiopeiae (Gamma Cassiopeiae)
Ruchbah – δ Cassiopeiae (Delta Cassiopeiae)
Segin – ε Cassiopeiae (Epsilon Cassiopeiae)
Achird – η Cassiopeiae (Eta Cassiopeiae)
ζ Cassiopeiae (Zeta Cassiopeiae)
ρ Cassiopeiae (Rho Cassiopeiae)
Deep Sky Objects in Cassiopeia
Messier 52 (NGC 7654)
Messier 103 (NGC 581)
The Pacman Nebula – NGC 281
The White Rose Cluster (NGC 7789)
NGC 185 (Caldwell 18)
NGC 147 (Caldwell 17)
Mythology of the Constellation Cassiopeia
Cassiopeia is represented in regal state seated on a throne with her left hand holding a palm tree branch. Her royal head points to the Arctic Circle. She is surrounded by the royal family with her husband Cepheus the king on her left. Her son-in-law, Perseus, is on her right and her daughter Andromeda is just beneath her.
The constellation Cassiopeia is easily recognized by its “W” shape, formed by its five bright stars in the shape of her chair or throne.
In Mythology, Cassiopeia was the wife of Cepheus, king of Ethiopia. She was also the mother of Andromeda. Cassiopeia believed herself to be a queen of unparalleled beauty, more beautiful than Jupiter’s sister Juno or the Nereides (sea nymphs).
She may indeed have deserved the reputation, but her bragging about it didn’t sit too well with the ladies of the sea. They took it as a personal insult and complained about it to Neptune the brother of Jupiter. Neptune agreed and he sent a sea monster to ravage the coast to punish her for insolence.
Next, he demanded that she chain her daughter, Andromeda, to a rock on the beach, leaving her exposed to the fury of the sea monster. Cassiopeia did as she was told, and the monster licked his chops in delicious anticipation. That was all the taste he got, however, for Perseus stepped in just in the nick of time and saved the fair young maiden.
“The saviour youth the royal pair confess,
And with heav’d hands, their daughter’s bridegroom bless.”
- Eusden’s Ovid
Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Andromeda, and Perseus were placed together in the sky by the Goddess Athena (Minerva) together forever among the stars.