If you’re camping under a starry night or using a telescope, you can see bright constellations all around.
If you happen to spot a crooked line with three bright stars, you’ve found Aries.
It’s one of the zodiac constellations and the 39th largest in our celestial sphere.
Let’s take a look at fascinating Aries constellation facts and how you can find the star cluster.
Aries Constellation Facts
Aries is one of 12 zodiac constellations that span the distance from the sun to the moon.
While it may not be the brightest constellation, it’s one of the most unique clusters of stars in our solar system.
Let’s dive into details about the constellation and what makes it so special.
The Recognition of the Aries Constellation
Even though Aries has been around for many years, the International Astronomical Union didn’t officially recognize it as part of our celestial sphere until 1922.
Location of Aries Constellation
- Right Ascension: 3 hours
- Visible between latitudes: 90 and -60 degrees
- Declination: 20 degrees
How to Find Aries
If you’re looking for Aries, you’ll need to look through the zodiac on a clear night. To find the constellation, you can follow these steps:
- Find Orion’s Belt
- Extend the imaginary line of the belt to locate Taurus
- Keep going until you see a cluster of seven stars close together
- From the cluster, you should be able to pinpoint Aries
How to Identify Aries
The three largest stars in the constellation form a crooked line together. The line is almost horizontal, with a slight slant. However, the easiest way to identify Aries is through its neighbors.
Around Aries, you should be able to locate the Pleiades and the Great Square Pegasus.
When Can You See Aries
Aries is in the Northern Hemisphere between Taurus in the east and Pisces in the west. Because of this, Aries is at its most visible during December.
If you want a shot at seeing the constellation, December 10th at 9 p.m. from anywhere in the world is your best bet.
Major Stars Of The Aries Constellation
Aries contains many stars and plants, but due to their size, you can only see a few of them with the naked eye. In the constellation, there are three major stars that give it its distinct shape:
The brightest star in the Aries constellation, Alpha Arietis, is 66 light-years away and twice the size of the sun. It’s located at the vernal equinox, which marks the beginning of spring.
The common name for this star is “Hamal,” which is Arabic for “ram.” It got this name from the shape of the Aries constellation.
Interestingly, Alpha Arietis is a K-type orange-red star, which means it’s an evolved star that’s burned most of its hydrogen supply.
What’s more, its apparent magnitude shifts between 1.98 and 2.04, so it’s the brightest star in the Aries constellation.
Beta Arietis, or Sheratan, is a blue and white striped star system that’s slightly smaller than Alpha. It forms the larger horn in the star cluster.
This system is about 60 light-years away from our planet with an apparent magnitude of 2.655.
Sheratan is an Arabic word that means “two conditions/signs.” The name comes from the fact that the appearance of Beta and Gamma in the sky signals the spring equinox.
Furthermore, this star system consists of two stars with an elliptical orbit. The two stars form a spectroscopic binary system, so you can’t distinguish them with the naked eye.
You can find this star between the Pleiades and the Great Square Pegasus.
Long ago, Beta and Gamma Arietis shared the same name, Sheratan. However, over the years, the name changed and instead of Sheratan, we now call it Mesarthim. The name comes from the Hebrew word for “servant,” indicating that Gamma is smaller than the other stars.
Mesarthim is a triple star located about 165 light-years from Earth. Just like Beta, Gamma is a binary star system, which means you can’t see the individual stars with the naked eye. Still, you can use a telescope to differentiate between the stars.
The primary star in the system has a magnitude of about 4.75, while the secondary is just under 3.0. This gives the system a magnitude of 3.86, making it the fourth brightest in the constellation.
Other Parts of the Ares Constellation
While the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma are the most recognizable parts of Aries, they’re not alone. Here are some of the other celestial bodies in Aries:
Another important part of Aries is the planetary system, 30 Ari. This system consists of a gas giant and four stars. It’s located about 136 light-years away from us.
In this system, a giant gas orbits the primary yellow star, just like Earth. The yellow star has a companion red star. Together, they’re locked in an orbit with another pair of stars.
30 Ari is about 10 times the mass of Jupiter, which makes it easier to spot with a telescope. However, you may not be able to distinguish between all of the stars in the system because of its binary status.
The Aries constellation also includes a few significant galaxies. The most notable galaxy is the NGC 772, which is 100 million light-years away from our galaxy and almost twice as big.
This is an unbarred spiral galaxy southeast of Beta Arietis. The spiral is likely due to the tidal forces of several satellite galaxies, mainly NGC 770.
NGC 772 is close to the celestial equator, which means that you can see the galaxy from both hemispheres throughout the year.
Aries is one of the six northern zodiac constellations.
While it has many intriguing ancient tales, its facts are just as interesting.
The Aries constellation is home to six major stars and four deep-sky objects, as well as many more celestial bodies.
While you’ll need a telescope to see most of these bodies, you can usually spot the three major stars that give the constellation its unique shape with the naked eye.
So, keep an eye out for three bright stars that form a crooked line!
You might also like learning about:
- Ara Constellation Facts
- Vela Constellation Facts
- Leo Constellation Facts
- Ophiuchus Constellation Facts
- Microscopium Constellation Facts
- Do Constellations Change Over Time?
- Equatorial Constellations
- Indigenous Constellations
- Cool Facts About Constellations
- Is It Ever Possible To See Venus
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