Been quite a while since I made one of these constellation threads, so I thought I would put one out there. I have fun making them, hope some of
y'all have fun reading them.
Cassiopeia is a northern hemisphere constellation that looks like the letter "W" in the night sky:
Or maybe it's a "M" ?
I guess it will depend upon your orientation of how you're looking up!
The constellation can be found by looking towards the north next to the constellation Cepheus. The distictive "W" or "M" pattern of stars will
give it away:
According to Greek Mythology, Cassiopeia
was the wife of King Cepheus. She was arrogant
and pretty much thought she was better than everyone else. Her arrogance cost her, and her punishment ended up being placed in the heavens as the
stars that are the constellation we see today.
The four brightest stars to make up Cassiopeia are:
Alpha Cassiopeiae, also known as Schedar, has a visual magnitude of 2.24. It's about 228 lightyears away. It's a giant orange colored star that is
about 42 times bigger than our own sun, and about 4 to 5 times our sun's mass. It is also cooler than our sun with a surface temp of about 4,530
Kelvins and it's about 1 to 2 hundred million years old. It's an old star as far as it's class goes (Giant Star) even though it's younger than our
sun. Because of it's size, it shines about 676 times brighter than our sun.
This star is also featured in Pop Culture, in the 1997 film Contact it's mentioned that Cassiopeia A gives off a lot of radio signals.
Beta Cassiopeiae is a yellow-white subgiant star, with a visible magnitude of 2.27 and is also known as Caph. It's about 55 lightyears away from us,
and is about 3.5 times bigger than our sun. It is almost 2 solar masses big and shines 27 times brighter than our sun. It is believed to be just over
1 billion years old.
Gamma Cassiopeiae is a large star which is 10 times the size of our sun and has 19 times the mass of our sun. It's HOT too at a temperature of 30,900
Kelvins. It's about 550 lightyears away from us and out shines our sun by a whopping 55,000 times! It also spins on it's axis so rapidly, it has a
equatorial bulge, and throws matter off of itself which has formed a hot circumstellar disk of gas around it.
Delta Cassiopeiae, also known as Ksora, is actually a eclipsing binary system, meaning it's two stars that orbit each other every 759 days. They have
a visual magnitude of 2.68 but will vary to 2.74 as the stars pass in front of each other. They are about 99 lightyears from us. The primary star is
expanding into it's Giant Star phase and is about 3.9 times the size of our sun, with 2.5 times it's mass.
While not among the brightest, we can't forget Epsilon Cassiopeiae becuase it helps complete our "W" or "M". It is also known as Segin, and has a
visual magnitude of 3.4. It is about 410 lightyears away from us and is a Giant Star. It is about 6 times bigger than our sun, with a mass of 9 times
that of our sun. It shines about 2,500 times brighter than our sun does and is quite a bit hotter at 15,100 Kelvins.
Here's some interesting pop culture and trivial about the constellation:
The TV show The X-Files had an episode where an abductee uses her finger prints on a window to indicate where her alien abductors are from:
Sara Bareilles (one of my favorite singers) composed a song called Cassiopeia, and is actually about the stars in the system.
In the movie The Green Mile, John Coffey points up at the night sky at Cassiopeia calling the constellation the Lady in The Rocking Chair.
The USS Cassiopeia
was a cargo ship in the US Navy during World War II. It was the only
ship in the navy to bear this name.