Aquarius is undoubtedly one of the best known constellations, known for making up one of the Zodiac signs. Its location make it very easily visible, even with the naked eye, even though the constellation itself doesn’t have any stars which are particularly bright.
Due to this, it’s probably best to wait for a dark night sky before trying to pick out Aquarius. It is one of the larger constellations though, and due to its position in the Zodiac, you should be able to pick it out. Lets look at more information about Aquarius.
- Bordered By; Pisces, Pegasus, Equuleus, Delphinus, Aquila, Capricornus, Piscis Austrinus, Sculptor, Cetus.
- Named after; The Water Bearer
- Declination; -24 to 3°
- Brightest Star; Beta Aquarii
- Best seen; October (Northern hemisphere), April (Southern hemisphere)
- Size rank; 10th
- Constellation family; Zodiac
- Pronunciation; ACK-WHERE-EE-US
What is Aquarius named after?
Aquarius takes its name from the Sumerian God of water, Enki, who was later referred to as simply Ea in Babylonian mythology. One of the more interesting Gods, he is usually related to the planet Mercury. The name Enki is roughly translated as Lord of the Earth (En = Lord, Ki = Earth) in Sumerian.
Who founded the Aquarius Constellation?
Aquarius is one of many different constellations which we attribute to Greek astronomer Ptolemy. These constellations were found in his catalogs, though they date back to much earlier than his time, certainly to the Babylonians and likely much further than this.
How can I see Aquarius in the sky?
The good news is that with Aquarius, you’ll be able to see it in the night sky whether you’re in the Northern or the Southern hemisphere. However, depending on your location, you’ll want to look for it at a different point throughout the year. If you’re in the Northern hemisphere, then it is best to look for Aquarius during the Autumn timeframe. In the Southern hemisphere, you can look for the constellation during the Springtime, which is when it is most visible.
Main Stars of Aquarius
As mentioned, the stars in this constellation aren’t particularly bright, but there are a fair few of them for you to spot. Here are the most well known ones up there in the night sky.
- Sadalsuud – The brightest star within the constellation is Sadalsuud, more commonly referred to as Beta Aquarii. The star itself is actually fairly young at an estimated 60 million years in age, however this is a long enough time for it to evolve into a supergiant star. It has a very high luminosity, more than 2300x that of the Sun. It is actually a double star, made up of one primary star and a smaller companion star.
- Sadalmelik – Towards the center of the constellation you’ll find Sadalmelik, which we also call Alpha Aquarii. It is a little duller than Sadalsuud, though still one of the brightest within the constellation. It is another supergiant star, despite it being little over 50 million years old. As well as a much higher luminosity, it is also 50x the radius of the Sun.
- Skat – The oddly named Skat is another one of the brighter stars here, and it is the Delta Aquarii of this constellation. It takes its name from the Arabic Al-Saq, which means shin, assumedly because of its location at the lower part of Aquarius. It has an estimated temperature of 9000K, which is hot enough to give the star a whitish color.
- Lambda Aquarii – This star can be referred to as Lambda Aquarii, but you may also see it as Hudoor or Hydor. The name Hydor comes from the Latin word for water, which makes sense as this is the water-bearing constellation. It is a red giant star.
- Albali – Albali, or Epsilon Aquarii, takes its name from the Arabic for swallower, as it is said to be the head of the constellation. It is not a particularly bright star, despite it being almost 400 million years old.
- Sadachbia – This star is also called Gamma Aquarii, and it is one of the least bright stars. It is a binary star with a white glow, located around 164 light years distance away from the Sun.
In conclusion, this is one of the larger constellations in the night sky, and it is visible for much of the year. As well as the stars above, it is also home to the Aquarius dwarf galaxy, a small irregular galaxy that is part of the Local Group alongside our own Milky way galaxy. So, there is much to see within Aquarius.