Serpens (Pronounciation:Sir-pens, Abbrev:Ser, Latin:Serpentis) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Serpens takes up 636.928 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 1.54% of the night sky. Serpens is the 23rd largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Serpents . 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 11 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 1539 stars. There are 65 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Serpens is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Serpens is an equatorial constellation that can be seen by countries nearest the Equator.
There are 2 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 36.71 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 381.92 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 147.85 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 88574 which is roughly about 25.31 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HD 168443 which is about 122.07 Light Years.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 90910 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 Serpens is Unukalhai and is located about 143.84 light years from the Sun. The star has a apparent magnitude of 2.63 but an absolute magnitude of 0.85 when the star is viewed from a distance of 10 Parsecs or 32.6 Light Years. The star is recognised as being the brightest in the constellation as it has the Bayer status of Alpha.
The dimmest star that can be seen in Serpens with the naked eye is Tau6 Serpentis. 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.
SDSS J155720.77+091624.6 is a mouthful to say and is usually just referred to as SDSS 1577+0916 which is still a mouthful but its shorter. What is remarkable about this star is that its a binary star system with a white dwarf and a brown dwarf star orbiting it. There is a strong possibility that there is also a planet in orbit round the stars.
The head of the Serpens will appear from about April on the NE -> E horizon. It will appear earlier in the previous month but you will need to stay up later. It will fall back out of site in October in a westerly direction. During the time that it is up, you can see the Kappa Serpentids meteor shower. The main bad news is that you will need to get up early to see it.
Serpens Caput can be seen in the night sky from May with its head on the horizon in a near easterly direction. It will rise over the coming months and then eventually head back down in October. Serpens Cauda will only just appear in May and disappear below the horizon in November.
Snakes were useful for cures in the ancient times, the snake's venom could be used as both a cure and a poison depending on how it was used. The snake is supposed to be a snake that was brought back to life by another snake and the reborn snake was then killed by Asclepius, better known as Ophiuchus. Ophiuchus is nearly always drawn as holding or fighting the serpen but never explained why. Ian Ridpath
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|
|eta Serpentids||24th August|
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 Serpens Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Unukalhai||Alpha Serpentis||73.96||15h 44m 16.00||+06d 25` 31.9||K2III||Orange|
|Beta Serpentis||Beta Serpentis||155.09||15h 46m 11.21||+15d 25` 18.9||A3V||White|
|Gamma Serpentis||Gamma Serpentis||36.71||15h 56m 26.99||+15d 39` 53.0||F6V||Yellow/White|
|Delta Serpentis||Delta Serpentis||228.09||15h 34m 48.19||+10d 32` 19.9||F0IV||Yellow/White|
|Nulla Pambu||Epsilon Serpentis||70.45||15h 50m 48.89||+04d 28` 39.3||A2m||White|
|Eta Serpentis||Eta Serpentis||60.48||18h 21m 18.92||-02d 53` 49.6||K0III-IV||Orange|
|Alya||Theta1 Serpentis||154.65||18h 56m 13.16||+04d 12` 12.7||A5V||White|
|Iota Serpentis||Iota Serpentis||190.07||15h 41m 33.09||+19d 40` 13.8||A1V||White|
|Gudja||Kappa Serpentis||381.92||15h 48m 44.41||+18d 08` 30.4||M1III||Red|
|Mu Serpentis||Mu Serpentis||169.61||15h 49m 37.27||-03d 25` 48.5||A0V||White|
|Xi Serpentis||Xi Serpentis||105.28||17h 37m 35.23||-15d 23` 54.3||F0IIIp||Yellow/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||636.928 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||1.54%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||17|
|Meteor Shower Count||12|
|Nearest Star||HIP 88574|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||HD 168443|
|Dimmest Star||Tau6 Serpentis|
|Furthest Star||HIP 90910|
|Bright Star Count||65|
|Hipparcos Star Count||1539|
|Main Star Count||11|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||2|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Corona Borealis|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|Eagle Nebula (M16, NGC6611)||Star Forming Nebula||7000||-13:47||18h 18m 8|
|Hoag's Object||Ring Galaxy||612.8 (+/-) 9.4 MLy||21:35:08||15h 17h 14m 4|
|Messier 5 (NGC 5904)||Globular Cluster||24500||+02:05||15h 18m 6|
|NGC 6027||Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies||+20 45 48.07||15 59 12m 542|
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