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Cetus, The Whale Constellation

Cetus (Pronounciation:Seat-us, Abbrev:Cet, Latin:Ceti) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Cetus takes up 1231.411 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 2.99% of the night sky. The constellation gets its name as it name means The Whale . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

Cetus is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Cetus is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.

The brightest star in Cetus is Diphda. There are 51 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Cetus. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Cetus is Mira. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Cetus Star List Page.

Cetus Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Cetus is 2965. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 110. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 14.

There are 1 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.

Stars of Interest

The nearest star to Earth is Tau Ceti which is roughly about 11.91 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HD 4747 which is about 60.95 Light Years. The furthest star that can be located in the constellation is HIP 6396 which is located about 326163.3 Light Years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

The dimmest star that can be seen in Cetus with the naked eye is 219 G. Cet. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

Legend of the Constellation

Cetus was a large mythical sea whale that lived off the coast of Philistia. It was fed humans to keep it from attacking the city. It had been put there because the Queen of the country upset the God Poseidon with her vanity. When Cassiopeia wanted to sacrifice her daughter Andromeda, the hero Perseus was there to save her.

Perseus tamed the mythical winged horse, Pegasus and rode it to the Graeae, three sisters who shared an eye and a tooth between them. Perseus stole the eye and would only give it back when they gave him the information that he wanted. The Graeae told Perseus to use the head of the Gorgon Medusa to turn the Cetus to stone and therefore kill it. Perseus handed back the eye and left.

Medusa had hair of snakes and if she looked at you, you'd be turned to stone. In order to avoid being turned to stone, he would use his shield as a mirror so that he could not be turned to stone as he killed her and chop off her head. Once he had successfully killed Medusa, he flew back to the city and turned Cetus to stone. Perseus rescued Andromeda.

In many paintings, Andromeda is shown naked tied to a large rock for Cetus to take. The legend of Cetus has been covered in the Clash of the Titans films of 2010 and 1981.


In the Andromeda television series, there is an episode called Belly of the Beast where there is a creature known as Cetus. The legend is that every 6,270 years, the Cetus monster appears attacks the planet of Savion. It just happens that its due to appear on the day that Dylan Hunt and Trance Gemini are visiting the planet to make first contact. The creature is a giant jelly like creature that swallows the Andromeda Ascendant whole.

Meteor Showers

There are 21 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The ones listed as the ones I've been able to find a date range for. For others if you have the time, you can visit the AMU site, obtains the SL value then use IMO tables to calculate the date. A lot of the Meteor Showers are weak and you need to do a lot of stargazing to spot them.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
Alpha Leonids13-Jan - 13-Feb24/31 JanRegulus

Cetus Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign No
Largest StarMira
Brightest StarDiphda
Area1231.411 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.99%
Size Position4th
Hemisphere Equatorial
Site Exoplanet Count51
Meteor Shower Count21
Nearest StarTau Ceti
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HD 4747
Dimmest Star219 G. Cet
Furthest StarHIP 6396
Bright Star Count110
Hipparcos Star Count2965
Main Star Count14
Messier Deep Space Object Count1
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count0
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsPisces

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

Cetus Constellation Map

Cetus Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Cetus

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Messier 77 (NGC1068)Spiral Galaxy47000000-00:0102h 42m 7
UGC1382Galaxy-0d 08` 36.1601h 54m 41m 069s

Meteor Showers

Alpha Leonids Meteor Shower

Max Activity Date24 Jan
Activity Period13-Jan - 13-Feb

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