Andromeda the Chained Maiden
Now that fall is here, the days are shorter and the nights are becoming longer, which is great for sky viewing! The first quarter moon is on the 5th, so it will be getting bigger and brighter, but then slowly fading away after its reached Full Moon size. The Milky Way is big and bright this time of year and fun to look at even when the moon is big and bright.
The summer stars and constellations have shifted west in the sky, and new constellations are rising in the east. The stars in the fall may not be as bright as they are in the summer, but since the sky is dark earlier they’re easy to observe. Since we’re not in the big cities, we don’t have problems finding things.
Every fall evening ancient Greeks looked up and saw a King, Queen, Prince, Princess, 2 monsters and a Flying Horse. The King is Cepheus and the Queen is Cassiopeia. Their daughter is Andromeda the Princess which is just to the left of the Great Square of Pegasus.
Queen Cassiopeia bragged about her daughter’s beauty one day when she told Poseidon the God of the Sea that Andromeda was more beautiful than the mermaids in the ocean. Poseidon was so upset that he said he would either send a tremendous tidal wave on the land killing everyone and everything, or he would take their only daughter to the big rock in the sea and let the sea monster eat her.
So they sent Andromeda to the sea to save the world. That’s when Perseus arrived and saved her by turning the sea monster into stone. Prince Perseus is the hero constellation in the group. Cerus is the sea monster in this big group that covers more than 1/4 of the sky.
Andromeda’s 7 stars form a skinny A shape partially on its side. Alpharez is the top of her head and the left star of the Great Square of Pegasus. The stars on her lower left side are the brightest. Currently she appears in the ENE with legs slightly pointing down. Later in the fall she will appear almost straight overhead.
She is visible well into winter. By December she will have moved into the western sky setting head first. Some pictures of the constellation show arms and details of legs, but they really aren’t very visible. The long A is most easy to observe since it extends off the left of the Great Square of Pegasus.
Her bright hip star is Mirash, and currently the Andromeda Galaxy is to the upper left of it. That’s halfway cross her body and the galaxy is currently above her. So have fun observing her!