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.
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.
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 27.11 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 753.26 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 251.15 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|Beta Herculids||February 13-16||February 14|
|Tau Herculids||2nd June|
|July Rho Herculids||29th July|
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.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Kornephoros||Beta Herculis||139.15||16h 30m 13.26||+21d 29` 22.7||G8III||Yellow|
|Sarin||Delta Herculis||75.14||17h 15m 01.92||+24d 50` 22.5||A3IVv SB||White|
|Epsilon Herculis||Epsilon Herculis||155.02||17h 00m 17.41||+30d 55` 34.8||A0V||White|
|Rutilicus||Zeta Herculis||34.95||16h 41m 17.48||+31d 36` 06.8||F9IV||Yellow/White|
|Sophian||Eta Herculis||108.65||16h 42m 53.74||+38d 55` 20.9||G8III-IV||Yellow|
|Rukbalgethi Genubi||Theta Herculis||753.26||17h 56m 15.18||+37d 15` 01.9||K1IIvar||Orange|
|Maasym||Lambda Herculis||369.38||17h 30m 44.30||+26d 06` 38.2||K3IIIvar||Orange|
|Mu Herculis||Mu Herculis||27.11||17h 46m 27.72||+27d 43` 21.0||G5IV||Yellow|
|Xi Herculis||Xi Herculis||136.81||17h 57m 45.83||+29d 14` 52.5||K0III||Orange|
|Pi Herculis||Pi Herculis||376.63||17h 15m 02.85||+36d 48` 33.0||K3IIvar||Orange|
|Rho Herculis||Rho Herculis||393.44||17h 23m 40.97||+37d 08` 45.3||B9.5III||Blue/White|
|Sigma Herculis||Sigma Herculis||314.83||16h 34m 06.19||+42d 26` 12.8||B9Vvar||Blue/White|
|Rukbalgethi Shemali||Tau Herculis||307.41||16h 19m 44.45||+46d 18` 47.8||B5IV||Blue/White|
|Upsilon Herculis||Upsilon Herculis||371.48||16h 02m 47.85||+46d 02` 12.7||B9III||Blue/White|
|Phi Herculis||Phi Herculis||203.98||16h 08m 46.20||+44d 56` 05.3||B9MNp...||Blue/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||1225.148 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||2.97%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||29|
|Meteor Shower Count||12|
|Nearest Star||HIP 84140|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||14 Herculis|
|Dimmest Star||HIP 86431|
|Furthest Star||SY Herculis|
|Bright Star Count||135|
|Hipparcos Star Count||3381|
|Main Star Count||15|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||2|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Draco|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|A2261-BCG - Abelle 2261 Brightest Cluster Galaxy||Galaxy||3,000,000,000||+32d 07` 57.18||17h 22m 27m 173|
|Messier 92 (NGC6341)||Globular Cluster||26700||+43:08||17h 17m 1|
|NGC 6050||Interacting Spiral Galaxy||500,000,000||17:44||16h 05|
|NGC 6166||Quasar||+39 33 04.231770853||16 28 38m 2443686587|
|NGC 6207||Spiral Galaxy||+36 49 56.73||16 43 03m 750|
|NGC 6210||Planetary Nebula||6,500||23:47:59.7||16h 44h 29m 5|
|NGC 6327||Galaxy||43:38||17h 14|
|The Great Hercules Globular Cluster (M13, NGC6205)||Globular Cluster||22200||+36:28||16h 41m 7|
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