The Constellation Aries

Aries is located in the Northern Celestial Hemisphere with Pisces to the east and Taurus to the west. Aries comes from the Latin word for Ram.

Aries itself is a mid sized constellation ranked 44th in size and it takes up around 1.1% of the celestial sphere we can see. The largest constellation title belongs to Hydra. Not one of the 12 signs Of The Zodiac. It is important to note that there are 88 constellations observable in both the southern and northern hemispheres.

Throughout ancient history, Aries has always been interpreted as The Ram. In Greek mythology, Aries’ fleece became the Golden Fleece from the Jason and the Argonauts tale. Even in the late Babylonian period Aries symbolised the ram.

In truth, Aries doesn’t have an awful lot to look at. As far as astronomy goes, it wouldn’t be widely regarded as “the” constellation to look at. The main body of Aries consists of 4 bright stars; Hamal, Sheratan, Mesarthim and 41 Arietis.

Sheratan and Mesarthim represent the horns of Aries. Sheratan is 59.6 light years away and Mesarthim being further at 164 light years away. Whilst we see them from Earth as next to one another, in cosmic terms they are massive distances from one another.

Hamal is the brightest star in Aries. It is a massive star with 15 times the diameter of our sun. It’s rotational velocity is only slightly quicker despite being significantly larger. Hamal May have a planet within its orbit larger than the mass of Jupiter. An exoplanet is observed passing in front of its parent star by the dip in light of the star itself. Given Hamal’s luminosity, a faint dip in light is very difficult to detect.

As far as deep sky objects inside Aries, a few galaxies lurk in there. Deep sky objects is a fancy term for objects that aren’t visible with the naked eye and require a telescope to find them. The galaxy group within the bounds of Aries is called the NGC group. Few interacting galaxies in there that orbit on another across the galactic plane.

Aries is well known for meteor showers. The best known is the Daytime Arietids meteor shower which lasts from 22nd of May to the 2nd of July every year. It peaks on the 7th of June and there can be up to 60 shooting stars per hour observed. The source of the Arietids is thought to be the asteroid Icarus, a mercury crossing asteroid and visitor to our solar system from time to time.

One final note, the objects in Aries are at an impossible distance. I have heard keen astrologists describe Aries as a “fire sign”. Seemingly an excuse for short temperament and feistiness. The nearest star is Hamal. I’m sorry to say but a star 3,468,389,069,336,56 (3 Quadrillion) miles away will never excuse your short fuse.

Jude Morrow

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