Autumn Constellations: Here’s what is bright and visible

Autumn constellations begin appearing in the sky in early to mid-September and can be viewed until the end of the year.

Some of the most famous zodiac constellations that are visible in the Autumn night sky include Aquarius, Aries and Pisces.

Andromeda, one of the oldest and most recognizable constellations, is part of a family in the night sky comprised of Perseus, Cassiopeia, Cetus, and Cepheus.  

With so many water-themed celestial objects, some refer to this region of the night sky as the “celestial sea.”  

Still curious about constellations found in the Fall night sky? This article will discuss these Autumnal constellations in more detail below!

Autumn Constellations

Andromeda

The Andromeda constellation is prominent in the Autumn night sky, covering 722 square degrees of sky. Andromeda appears as two lines of stars.

Andromeda’s brightest star is Alpheratz.

The Andromeda constellation is also where the famous Andromeda spiral galaxy can be viewed with the naked eye.

Andromeda’s stars are best viewed around 9pm during the month of November.

In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the beautiful princess of Ethiopia, daughter of Queen Cassiopeia and King Cepheus. 

In order to appease the gods, Andromeda was chained to a rock in sacrifice to the sea monster Cetus.

She was rescued by Perseus.

Aquarius

Aquarius is a large constellation covering 980 square degrees of sky. It is bordered by the constellations Pegasus, Pisces, and Cetus.

The constellation Aquarius does not have bright stars but can be located using the Great Square of Pegasus.

Aquarius is highest in the sky in early October around 10 p.m. or early November around 8 p.m.

Known as the “Water Bearer” Aquarius is one of the 13 constellations of the zodiac.

In ancient Egypt, the constellation Aquarius represented Hapi, the benevolent God of the Nile River. 

Aries

Known as “The Ram” in Latin, Aries is frequently recorded in history as the first sign of the zodiac. 

Small but mighty, the Aries constellation can be found west of Pisces and north of the Triangulum.

Aries does not contain bright stars and can be difficult to locate; Hamal, the brightest of the constellation, has a magnitude of just 2.0. 

November and December are especially good months for viewing Aries the Ram.

Aries reaches its highest point in the sky at about 10 p.m. local time in late November.

Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia is a circumpolar constellation, meaning the constellation is always above the horizon in a given latitude. Cassiopeia is located between the north pole and Andromeda.

The brightest stars of Andromeda form a “M” or “W,” which helps star gazers locate Cassiopeia.

Cassiopeia is best viewed at 9pm from October to February, however this constellation can be viewed year round.

In the Ancient Greek tale, Cassiopeia vainly boasted that she and Andromeda were more beautiful than the nymphs of the sea, angering the sea god Poseidon.

Poseidon demanded King Cepheus sacrifice Andromeda to the sea monster Cetus by chaining her to a rock.

Cepheus

The constellation of Cepheus can be found near the North Pole and, like Cassiopeia, is a circumpolar constellation.

Cepheus is visible all year long in the Northern Hemisphere.

Cepheus’ stars are often said to resemble a five sided house.

Cepheus contains some of the largest known stars, VV Cephei and the Garnet Star.

Cepheus is also home to several well-known deep sky objects including the Wizard Nebula, the Iris Neular and the Fireworkds Galaxy.

Cepheus has one star with known orbiting planets.

Cetus

Cetus is located below Pisces. Cetus is a large constellation, taking up 1,231 square degrees.

Cetus is often depcited as a whale, or in reference to the Greek myth, a large sea monster sent by Poseidon to punish King Cepheus.

Cetus is located in the southern sky.

It is best visible at 9pm during the month of November.

The Cetus constellation is best known for its star, Mira.

Mira ceti was the first variable star discovered and can change its brightness, varying from 3.0-9.0 magnitude over 330 days.

Pegasus

Pegasus, named for the famous winged horse from Greek myth, is located in the Northern sky and is easily identified by its unmistakable giant “square” in the sky comprised of four stars.

Pegasus borders Pisces, and Andromeda.

Pegasus can be found by following a line from Polaris (the Pole Star) through Cassiopeia.

It’s brightest star, Enif, is an orange super-giant star.

The best time to view the constellation of Pegasus is at 9pm during the month of October.   

Three stars in the Pegasus constellation are notable because extrasolar planets have been detected in orbit around these stars.

Perseus

Named after the Greek mythology hero, Perseus is located along the Milky Way, southwest of Cassiopeia’s famous “W.”

Perseus seems to follow the constellation Cassiopeia across the sky.

Perseus is flanked by Aries to the South, Cassiopeia to the North and Andromeda to the West.

Perseus is home to several deep-sky objects and a famous star Algol, whose name in Arabic translates to “head of the demon.”

Algol is a variable binary star, meaning that it is actually two stars rotating around each other.  

A full rotation takes the two stars every 2 days and 20 hours.

Algol’s brightness changes, depending on which star orbits in front.   

Pisces

Pisces,  known in Latin as The Fishes, is a large constellation of dim stars.

Pisces is the 14th constellation in size, occupying an area of 889 square degrees.  

The Vernal Equinox is located in Pisces.

Pisces can be found next to Aries and just below the Great Square of Pegasus.

Pisces is best seen from a dark sky in October or November, at around 10pm.

The constellation resembles a graceful “V” which is often compared to two fishes bound together on a fishing line.

In Greek mythology, the fishes are said to represent Eros and Venus, who transformed into fish to escape the monster Typhon. 

Triangulum

Known to ancient civilations, Triangulum is one of 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy.

Small and ancient, It is located above Aries and below Andromeda. 

Triangulum is  “triangle” in Latin, and the three brightest stars resemble a triangle, or some say the tip of a spear or arrow.

Triangulum is home  to the Pinwheel galaxy, which is classified as an irregular spiral galaxy.

Triangulum appears highest in the evening sky in October.

Star gazers hoping to find some beauty in the night sky will not be disappointed with the constellations in the Autumn season.

From the celestial sea constellations to the drama of Andromeda, there is so much to discover and admire in the Autumn night sky.

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Autumn Constellations

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