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Hercules, The Warrior Constellation

Hercules Constellation Star Map

Hercules (Pronounciation:Her-q-leas, Abbrev:Her, Latin:Herculis) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Hercules takes up 1225.148 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 2.97% of the night sky. Hercules is the 5th largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation name means The Warrior . 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 3381 stars. There are 135 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

Hercules is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Hercules is a northern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the southern hemisphere.

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

There are 29 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Hercules. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Hercules is Rasalgethi.

There are 2 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 1 non-Messier deep space objects that are covered on this site and the list is below.

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

Hercules 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 84140, Hercules's Nearest Star

The nearest star to Earth is HIP 84140 which is roughly about 19.5 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is 14 Herculis which is about 57.31 Light Years.

SY Herculis, Hercules's Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is SY Herculis and it is 163081.7 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.

HIP 86431, Hercules's Dimmest Visible Star

The dimmest star that can be seen in Hercules with the naked eye is HIP 86431. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 8.39. 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.

Kornephoros

Although Kornephoros is the brightest star in the constellation, it wasn't recognised as such when the Bayer classifications were given out. Alpha Herculis was given to another star, Ras Algethi. Kornephoros is a double star and this can be made out in a good night without the need of a a good telescope or binoculars. The star system is clearly visible with the naked eye though.

How to Find and View Hercules in the Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

Hercules can be best seen starting from April about 9 pm when it starts to appear on the horizon in a north-east direction. It can be location by finding the constellation of Ursa Minor and then looking down from the bowl. Look at Kochab and then down at Pherkad then follow downwards through Draco and then you should see it.

The constellation follows a south to west journey across the skies in the following months. It is highest in August and then begins its slow path downwards. Hercules never totally disappears out of view. In January / February, its upper arms will be visible but the rest of it will be obscured.

Southern Hemisphere

You won't get to see Hercules as good as it is in the Northern Hemisphere. From June, the constellation is mostly visibe at about 9 p.m. You will need to wait later in the month to see it. Hercules rests on the Horizon and begins disappearing in late August.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Hercules

There are 12 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
Beta HerculidsFebruary 13-16February 14  
Tau Herculids2nd June  
July Rho Herculids29th July  

List of Main Stars in Hercules

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 Hercules Star List page.

NameBayerDistance (Lt.Yr.)Right AscensionDeclinationSpectral TypeColour
KornephorosBeta Herculis139.1516h 30m 13.26+21d 29` 22.7G8IIIYellow
SarinDelta Herculis75.1417h 15m 01.92+24d 50` 22.5A3IVv SBWhite
Epsilon HerculisEpsilon Herculis155.0217h 00m 17.41+30d 55` 34.8A0VWhite
RutilicusZeta Herculis34.9516h 41m 17.48+31d 36` 06.8F9IVYellow/White
SophianEta Herculis108.6516h 42m 53.74+38d 55` 20.9G8III-IVYellow
Rukbalgethi GenubiTheta Herculis753.2617h 56m 15.18+37d 15` 01.9K1IIvarOrange
MaasymLambda Herculis369.3817h 30m 44.30+26d 06` 38.2K3IIIvarOrange
Mu HerculisMu Herculis27.1117h 46m 27.72+27d 43` 21.0G5IVYellow
Xi HerculisXi Herculis136.8117h 57m 45.83+29d 14` 52.5K0IIIOrange
Pi HerculisPi Herculis376.6317h 15m 02.85+36d 48` 33.0K3IIvarOrange
Rho HerculisRho Herculis393.4417h 23m 40.97+37d 08` 45.3B9.5IIIBlue/White
Sigma HerculisSigma Herculis314.8316h 34m 06.19+42d 26` 12.8B9VvarBlue/White
Rukbalgethi ShemaliTau Herculis307.4116h 19m 44.45+46d 18` 47.8B5IVBlue/White
Upsilon HerculisUpsilon Herculis371.4816h 02m 47.85+46d 02` 12.7B9IIIBlue/White
Phi HerculisPhi Herculis203.9816h 08m 46.20+44d 56` 05.3B9MNp...Blue/White

Hercules Facts


NameHercules
AbbreviationHer
Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarKornephoros
Area1225.148 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.97%
Size Position5th
Hemisphere Northern
Site Exoplanet Count29
Meteor Shower Count12
Nearest StarHIP 84140
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)14 Herculis
Largest StarRasalgethi
Brightest StarKornephoros
Dimmest StarHIP 86431
Furthest StarSY Herculis
Bright Star Count135
Hipparcos Star Count3381
Main Star Count15
Messier Deep Space Object Count2
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsDraco
Bootes
Corona Borealis
Serpens
Ophiuchus
Aquila
Sagitta
Vulpecula
Lyra

*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 Hercules


NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
A2261-BCG - Abelle 2261 Brightest Cluster GalaxyGalaxy3 Billion+32d 07` 57.1817h 22m 27m 173
Messier 92 (NGC6341)Globular Cluster26700+43:0817h 17m 1
NGC 6050Interacting Spiral Galaxy500 Million17:4416h 05
NGC 6210Planetary Nebula6,500 Ly23:47:59.716h 44h 29m 5
NGC 6327Galaxy43:3817h 14
The Great Hercules Globular Cluster (M13, NGC6205)Globular Cluster22200+36:2816h 41m 7


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