7 constellations of the Northern Hemisphere that are easy to find in the sky

1. Dragon

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

This constellation hid exactly between the two Bears. To see it, find the Big One and look up just above the top of its bucket. There should be a string of stars there – follow it with your eyes: go along the long writhing tail and get to another small bucket, the head. That’s the whole Dragon.

This is one of the largest constellations in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere – it covers an area of 1,083 square degrees. Like Ursa, it belongs to the circumpolar, that is, it never sets beyond the horizon – it can be seen all year round. However, the Dragon is most noticeable in the spring.

This constellation, like many others, got its name back in ancient Greece. According to myths, these are not just stars, but the dragon Ladon, who protected the tree with golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides. When Hercules killed Ladon, the grieving Hera sent him to heaven. In the Arab countries, they saw in him a small camel surrounded by camels: they stood nearby to protect the cub from attacking hyenas. Therefore, the constellation was called “Camels”.

2. Cassiopeia

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

In the other direction – a little further than the tail of Ursa Minor – Cassiopeia is located. It is easy to recognize by the shape of the letter W or M – depends on how you look. As an additional guide, you can use the North Star, that is, the end of the tail of the Bear.

The constellation is also clearly visible in the sky all year round, but the ideal time to look for it is autumn. The letter W in Cassiopeia is formed by five bright stars, although in fact there are thousands of objects in it: in addition to stars, these are nebulae and even dwarf galaxies. Not all of them are visible to the naked eye.

According to Greek myths, the wife of the king of Ethiopia, Cepheus (Kefey), the mother of Andromeda, turned into this constellation. Cassiopeia boasted that her beauty surpassed the sea nymphs of the Nereids. They, of course, did not like it, and they asked Poseidon to punish her. He sent a curse on Ethiopia – a flood and a monster, from which it was possible to escape only by chaining Andromeda to a rock. They did so, but the girl was saved by Perseus, who eventually became her husband. Later, Poseidon decided to send Cassiopeia and Cepheus to heaven. As a punishment for vanity, he placed the queen upside down: now she always circles around the North Pole upside down.

3. Cepheus

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

To Cepheus, Poseidon was more supportive and placed him head up, right next to his wife. Outwardly, the constellation resembles a house, although the Greeks saw the upper body in a square, and the lower one in a triangle.

Two landmarks will help you find Cepheus. The first is Cassiopeia and Ursa Minor: draw a straight line from Polaris to W and look up. The second is the tail of the Dragon: you need to look above the sharp point of its bend. The ideal time to search is from August to September.

One of the components of Cepheus – Delta Cephei – became the prototype for a whole class of stars, Cepheids. These are yellow giants and supergiants in the later stages of their existence. Their luminosity and pulsation period are regular, so astronomers use Cepheids to determine the distances between distant space objects. It was the Cepheids that helped discover Hubble’s law, which describes the expansion of the universe.

4. Andromeda

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

Andromeda also ended up in heaven, but Athena sent her there – placed her next to her husband and mother. To locate the constellation, look below the peaks of Cassiopeia and look for three stars forming a band. This is the first part of Andromeda. Then look away from the lower star from the row – two more shoulders diverge from it. One of them, long, continues the constellation, the other rests on the star square: this is the constellation Pegasus.

In addition to the stars in Andromeda, it is worth looking for a small cloud. This is the Andromeda Nebula – a whole galaxy that can be seen from Earth even without a telescope. But if the equipment is, then it is better to use it. So in a shapeless cloud you can see dust lanes, globular clusters and other objects.

The telescope greatly expands the possibilities for observing the sky. With it, it will be possible to see not only the bright stars in the constellations, but also more detailed drawings of clusters and even planets. Buying a huge clumsy instrument for amateur sky exploration is not necessary: light and compact versions of telescopes also exist. Shvabe holding developed its own model of this: their telescope weighs only 3 kilograms and has an ergonomic shape – due to this, it is easy to take it with you on a trip to nature or for an evening walk around the city.

The telescope will be manufactured at the Lytkarino Optical Glass Plant. Inside the device is a two-component optical circuit with a light diameter of 102 millimeters. An easy-to-use focuser and azimuthal mount help you adjust the magnification and fix the lens on the desired object. The assembly of the telescope, according to the creators, should take no more than a minute, the same amount – to master the operation. It will be possible to buy Shvabe telescopes in online stores as early as 2023.

5. Swan

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

This constellation is best seen in late summer or early autumn. Inside the Cygnus is the asterism (that is, a cluster of stars) the Northern Cross – it should be used as a guide. First find the base/shoulders of the Cepheus and the “neck” of the Dragon, then look away from the Bears.

Every August, the Kappa Cygnids meteor shower can be observed in the region of the constellation. It lasts for several weeks, and usually reaches its peak on August 17 – then the “shooting stars” are most visible even without a telescope. However, the activity of the flow is not the same: it reaches a peak once every 7 years. The last burst of stellar rain was in 2021.

There are many myths about the appearance of the Cygnus in the sky. According to one, this is Zeus, who turned into a bird in order to fly to Earth to his beloved Leda. According to the second – the poet and musician Orpheus. According to the third – the son of Ares, Kykn, who died in battle with Hercules (translated from ancient Greek – “swan”). According to the fourth version – the son of Poseidon, Kykn, who was killed by Achilles in the Trojan War. Finally, according to the fifth and most popular – Kikn was a friend of the son of Helios, Phaethon. When Phaeton died, Kykn grieved for a long time, for which the gods decided to send him to heaven in the form of a beautiful bird.

6. Lyra

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

This small constellation, shaped like a bucket, is located next to Cygnus. There are also many stories of its appearance. The most popular is this: after the death of Orpheus, the gods sent his beloved golden lyre to heaven so that it would remind people of the wonderful, mesmerizing melodies of the hero.

The bright star Vega will help you notice Lyra – it adorns the tail of the ladle. By the way, this is the second brightest star in the sky of the Northern Hemisphere, it is second only to Arcturus from the constellation Bootes. Another landmark to look for is the head of the Dragon, Lyra is right below it.

7. Orion

Illustration: Asya Sokolova / Lifehacker

This equatorial constellation is visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. But at different times. In Russia, it is better to watch Orion in autumn. The easily recognizable asterism Orion’s Belt – three stars arranged in a row will help to detect it. Having found it, you need to look up and down: two stars, the red Betelgeuse and the blue Rigel, will be the reference points for the end points of the constellation. They are among the ten brightest stars in the entire sky.

As additional assistants in the search, use Cassiopeia and Ursa Minor: draw lines from the North Star and the protruding peak of Cassiopeia in the opposite direction from Cygnus and Lyra until they touch. They should converge approximately in the region of Orion. If you didn’t manage to find the Belt, take a closer look at this section of the sky – perhaps the constellation is a little further.

The name of the constellation was given by the son of Poseidon and Euryale, daughter of King Minos. According to one version, Orion turned into a constellation thanks to Artemis. The goddess fell in love with him, but her brother Apollo was against this union. He gave his sister a bow and offered to shoot at a distant, barely visible point in the sea – it was Orion. Artemis was terribly upset and sent her lover to heaven so that he would shine there forever.

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