Constellations/Sky

Find Cassiopeia

Stargazing is a cheap, easy, fun adventure. We live in the northern hemisphere, and on most nights, we can find constellations including: The Big DipperLittle Dipper, Cygnus, Andromeda, DracoOrionPleiadesPegasus, the Winter TriangleGemini, and Taurus. We also find stars like BetelgeuseRigelPolarisBellatrix, Vega, Albireo, Deneb, Castor, Pollux, and Sirius.
cassiopeamegSo here’s the constellation Cassiopeia. She was the queen of Ethiopia in Greek myth. Good luck finding her because in the night sky she doesn’t look at all like this! (Picture Credit)
The five stars that make up Cassiopeia. You can almost always see 4 of them
(unless she is below the horizon). Picture taken from Stars/Constellations.

Here’s what you’re really seeing. To me, it looks like a letter “W” that’s a little warped. If I squint really hard I can get a crown out of it– she is a queen, after all, but mostly I wonder what those Greeks were thinking. (Ptolemy described this constellation almost 2000 years ago.) Some people describe this constellation as Cassiopeia’s chair. I guess I can see that.

To find Cassiopeia, first, find the Big Dipper. (The Big Dipper will serve as an “anchor point” to find this constellation– at least at first.) Then locate the north star, Polaris. Now, go to the point where the handle of the Big Dipper meets the cup. From there, draw a line through the north star. You should run into Cassiopeia. The north star is about half way between the Big Dipper’s handle and Cassiopeia.

Here’s what it looks like:

I find her by using the Big Dipper’s handle and Polaris.Picture from Astro Bob using Stellarium.

 

6 Comments

  • You’ll laugh, but I know this constellation because of the movie Serendipity. He says her freckles look like it and draws it on her arm as he tells the story of how Cassiopeia came to be. Cheesy?! YES! But it’s stuck with me!