- March 5, 2012
Understanding what are constellations and about their origin, we can quote in simple words that they are the formation of stars that form some object and that object could be an animal (Leo, Aries), a human being (Virgo, Aquarius, and Gemini), a sea creatures (Pisces, Cancer) or even an object (as Libra). Studying constellations started about 4500 year ago in China, Egypt and Arab and they got named with respect to the arrangements of stars according and appearance of images. In 1928, International Astronomical Union (IAU) put everything systematically and accepted 88 constellations and decided their boundaries. Pisces constellation is identified and observed by every ancient civilization like Egyptians, Arabs, Babylonians and Chinese.
Pisces constellation is located between constellation Aquarius to the west and constellation Aries to the east. This is the most mystifying constellation for humans and surprising for stargazers.
The Pisces constellation comprises of stars Alpha, Beta, Epsilon, Delta, Zeta, Eta, Lota and Omicron Piscium. The Arabic name of Beta Piscium is Samaka which means "the fish". The nearest star is Van Maanen which is 14.1 light-years away from us. Though numerous dim galaxies exist but the brightest one is the spiral galaxy Messier 74. This name came from Charles Messier who discovered it. According to recent findings, Type I and Type II supernova was found within Pisces constellation in 2002 and 2003. Meteor showers are also been observed in this constellation during August 12 and October 7. The highest action can be seen on September 11 and The Piscids, May Piscids and Gamma Piscids are responsible for meteor showers.
Mythology behind Pisces constellation is about Typhon, a giant creature originated from the earth that had hundred heads and a black tongue. It could emit fire from the eyes. Typhon's sudden appearance forced all gods to transform into different animals. As a result, Jupiter transformed into ram, Apollo into crow and so on. When Venus and his son Cupid were bathing on the bank of river, they had to transform themselves into a pair of fishes and to tie themselves with a cord so that they could not be lost in river. Symbolizing this incidence, they got a place in the sky and became immortal, being viewed as Pisces constellation.
Few interesting points about Pisces Constellation are:
- The English meaning of Pisces is fish.
- It symbolizes pair of fishes tide together with rope.
- Its location is south west of Andromeda and exactly below the Great Square of Pegasus.
- Its visibility in latitude is between +90 and -60 degree.
- Its area is 889.417 sq. degrees (ranked 14 in list of constellations).
- It can be seen on a clear night between October and December.
- The best time to view this constellation is month of November around 9:00 pm.
- This V-shaped constellation has few bright stars and can be visible through only a high power telescope.
- Vernal Equinox is believed to be the first point of Aries but it shifted to Pisces due to its spinning motion.
- Eta Piscium is the brightest star in Pisces constellation.