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 15 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.
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.
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.
You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 11.91 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 649.73 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 221.96 light years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 can be seen as soon as it gets dark in a south-easternly direction, low on the horizon. Any later, it will have disappeared below the horizon. It will be viewable from 8 pm in November again in a south-easternly direction at which time it will be dark with the clocks having gone forward. It will not rise much over night or in the ensuing months. If you are in Miami, it appears higher in the sky in August -> October time.
The best time to see Cetus is about February when it is not that far above the horizon. The closer you are to the equator, the better. Darwin presents a good position to see the constellation when it reaches highest into the sky during January and February inclusive.
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.
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 Gemini is played by Laura Bertram in Andromeda">Trance Gemini are visiting the planet to make first contact. The creature is a giant jelly like creature that swallows the Andromeda Ascendant whole.
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.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|Omega Cetids||5 May- 9 Jun||07-May|
|Omicron Cetids||May 7-June 9||May 14-25||Mira|
|Pi Cetids||16 Jun- 4 Jul||26-Jun||Pi Ceti|
|August omicron Cetids||10th August|
|Lambda Cetids||29th October|
The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Cetus Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Menkar||Alpha Ceti||249.17||03h 02m 16.78||+04d 05` 23.7||M2III||Red|
|Diphda||Beta Ceti||96.33||00h 43m 35.23||-17d 59` 12.1||K0III||Orange|
|Kaffaljidhma||Gamma Ceti||79.61||02h 43m 18.12||+03d 14` 10.2||A3V||White|
|Delta Ceti||Delta Ceti||649.73||02h 39m 28.95||+00d 19` 42.7||B2IV||Blue/White|
|Epsilon Monocerotis||Epsilon Monocerotis||122.30||06h 23m 46.10||+04d 35` 34.2||A5IV||White|
|Epsilon Monocerotis B||Epsilon Monocerotis B||121.03||06h 23m 46.50||+04d 35` 45.1||F5V||Yellow/White|
|Baten Kaitos||Zeta Ceti||234.99||01h 51m 27.61||-10d 20` 05.8||K2III||Orange|
|Deneb Algenub||Eta Ceti||123.92||01h 08m 35.26||-10d 10` 54.9||K2III||Orange|
|Theta Ceti||Theta Ceti||113.80||01h 24m 01.45||-08d 10` 57.9||K0III||Orange|
|Deneb Kaitos Shemali||Iota Ceti||274.55||00h 19m 25.68||-08d 49` 25.8||K2III||Orange|
|Lambda Ceti||Lambda Ceti||576.26||02h 59m 42.90||+08d 54` 26.6||B6III||Blue/White|
|Mu Ceti||Mu Ceti||84.06||02h 44m 56.37||+10d 06` 51.2||F1III-IV||Yellow/White|
|Mira||Omicron Ceti||298.96||02h 19m 20.79||-02d 58` 37.4||M5e-M9e||Red|
|Tau Ceti||Tau Ceti||11.91||01h 44m 05.13||-15d 56` 22.4||G8V||Yellow|
|Upsilon Ceti||Upsilon Ceti||292.79||02h 00m 00.22||-21d 04` 40.0||K5/M0III||Orange|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||1231.411 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||2.99%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||51|
|Meteor Shower Count||21|
|Nearest Star||Tau Ceti|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||HD 4747|
|Dimmest Star||219 G. Ceti|
|Furthest Star||HIP 6396|
|Bright Star Count||110|
|Hipparcos Star Count||2965|
|Main Star Count||15|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||1|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Pisces|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|Darth Vader's Galaxy (NGC 936)||Barred Lenticular Galaxy||-01 09 22.61||02 27 37m 462|
|IC 1613, Caldwell 51||Irregular Dwarf Galaxy||2.38 MLy||+2d 07` 04||1h 4m 47m 8|
|IC1623||Interacting Galaxies||-17 30 25||01 07 47m 2|
|Messier 77 (NGC1068)||Spiral Galaxy||47000000||-00:01||02h 42m 7|
|NGC 1015||Barred Spiral Galaxy||-01:19:07.02||02h 38h 11m 565|
|NGC 1055||Spiral Galaxy||52 Million LY||0:26:35||2h 41h 45m 2|
|NGC 1065||Elliptical Galaxy||-15:05:30||02h 42h 06m 2|
|NGC 1128||Dumbell Galaxy||300 Million Ly||+6:01:29||2h 57h 41m 6|
|NGC 307||Lenticular Galaxy||-01 46 19.168932202||00 56 32m 5609818663|
|NGC 355||Lenticular Galaxy||-06 19 25.874264496||01 03 06m 9685150429|
|UGC1382||Galaxy||-0d 08` 36.16||01h 54m 41m 069s|
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