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Cetus, The Whale Constellation Facts and Mythology

Cetus Constellation Star Map

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. Cetus is the 4th largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation 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.

There are 14 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 2965 stars. There are 110 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

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 distance to Cetus is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Cetus is to calculate the average distance of the stars.

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.

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.

The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Cetus Star Facts

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.

HIP 6396, Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 6396 and it is 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.

Diphda, Brightest Star in Cetus

The brightest star in Cetus is Diphda and is located about 110.44 light years from the Sun. The star has a apparent magnitude of 2.04 but an absolute magnitude of -0.31 when the star is viewed from a distance of 10 Parsecs or 32.6 Light Years. The star is only recognised as being Beta Ceti rather than having Alpha status.

219 G. Ceti, Dimmest Visible Star

The dimmest star that can be seen in Cetus with the naked eye is 219 G. Ceti. 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.

Tau Ceti

Located at around 11.90 light years away, it is not the nearest but it is a lot closer than other stars. The interesting thing about this star is that it has a fairly large exoplanetary solar system with 4/5 planets in orbit round the star. A lot of the exoplanets that have been discovered outside our solar system have been single planet systems.

Cetus Mythology

Cetus was a large mythical sea whale that lived off the coast of Philistia, now present day Ethiopeia. Cetus was fed humans to keep it from attacking the city. It had been put there because Queen Cassiopeia had upset the God Poseidon with her vanity. Poseidon is the Greek god of the water, comparable to the Roman God Neptune. 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.

Andromeda Television Series

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 Radiating from Cetus

There are 21 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
Omega Cetids5 May- 9 Jun07-May  
Omicron CetidsMay 7-June 9May 14-25Mira
Pi Cetids16 Jun- 4 Jul26-JunPi Ceti

Cetus Facts


NameCetus
AbbreviationCet
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
Brightest StarDiphda
Dimmest Star219 G. Ceti
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
Aquarius
Sculptor
Fornax
Eridanus
Taurus
Aries

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



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


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