Pisces (constellation)

Pisces is a constellation of the zodiac. Its name is the Latin plural for fish. It lies between Aquarius to the west and Aries to the east. The ecliptic and the celestial equator intersect within this constellation and in Virgo. Its symbol is Pisces.svg (Unicode ♓).

Pisces
Constellation
Pisces
AbbreviationPsc
GenitivePiscium
Pronunciation/ˈpaɪsiːz/, genitives /ˈpɪʃiəm/
Symbolismthe Fishes
Right ascension 1h
Declination+15°
QuadrantNQ1
Area889 sq. deg. (14th)
Main stars18
Bayer/Flamsteed
stars
86
Stars with planets13
Stars brighter than 3.00m0
Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly)8
Brightest starη Psc (Alpherg) (3.62m)
Messier objects1
Meteor showersPiscids
Bordering
constellations
Visible at latitudes between +90° and −65°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of November.

Features

PiscesCC
The constellation Pisces as it can be seen by naked eye.

The vernal equinox is currently located in Pisces, due south of ω Psc, and, due to precession, slowly drifting below the western fish towards Aquarius.

Stars

  • Van Maanen's Star, at 12.35 magnitude, is located in this constellation, along with others, such as HD 222410, at 7.45 magnitude.
  • Alrescha ("the cord"), otherwise Alpha Piscium (α Psc), 139 lightyears, class A2, apparent magnitude 3.62
  • Fumalsamakah[1] ("mouth of the fish"), otherwise Beta Piscium (β Psc), 492 lightyears, class B6Ve, apparent magnitude 4.48
  • Delta Piscium(δ Psc), 305 lightyears, class K5III, apparent magnitude 4.44
  • Epsilon Piscium (ε Psc), 190 lightyears, class K0III, apparent magnitude 4.27
  • Revati[1] ("rich"), otherwise Zeta Piscium (ζ Psc), 148 lightyears, class A7IV, apparent magnitude 5.21
  • Alpherg ("pouring point of water")[1], otherwise Eta Piscium (η Psc), 294 lightyears, class G8III, apparent magnitude 3.62
  • Torcular ("thread")[1], otherwise Omicron Piscium (ο Psc), 258 lightyears, class K0III, apparent magnitude 4.2
  • Omega Piscium (ω Psc), 106 lightyears, class F4IV, apparent magnitude 4.03
  • Gamma Piscium (γ Psc), 320 lightyears, apparent magnitude 12.078.
  • Κομμένο πρόσωπο Piscium (έ Psc), 680 lightyears, apparent magnitude 16.9

Deep-sky objects

M74 is a loosely wound (type Sc) spiral galaxy in Pisces, found at a distance of 30 million light years (redshift 0.0022). It has many clusters of young stars and the associated nebulae, showing extensive regions of star formation. It was discovered by Pierre Méchain, a French astronomer, in 1780. A type II-P supernova was discovered in the outer regions of M74 by Robert Evans in June 2003; the star that underwent the supernova was later identified as a red supergiant with a mass of 8 solar masses.[2]

NGC 488 is an isolated face-on prototypical spiral galaxy.

NGC 520 is a pair of colliding galaxies located 90 million lightyears away.

CL 0024+1654 is a massive galaxy cluster that lenses the galaxy behind it, creating arc-shaped images of the background galaxy. The cluster is primarily made up of yellow elliptical and spiral galaxies, at a distance of 3.6 billion light-years from Earth (redshift 0.4), half as far away as the background galaxy, which is at a distance of 5.7 billion light-years (redshift 1.67).[2]

3C 31 is an active galaxy and radio source in Perseus located at a distance of 237 million light-years from Earth (redshift 0.0173). Its jets, caused by the supermassive black hole at its center, extend several million light-years in both directions, making them some of the largest objects in the universe.[2]

History and mythology

Sidney Hall - Urania's Mirror - Pisces
From Urania's Mirror (1824)

Pisces originates from some composition of the Babylonian constellations Šinunutu4 "the great swallow" in current western Pisces, and Anunitum the "Lady of the Heaven", at the place of the northern fish. In the first-millennium BC texts known as the Astronomical Diaries, part of the constellation was also called DU.NU.NU (Rikis-nu.mi, "the fish cord or ribbon").[3]

Pisces is associated with Aphrodite and Eros, who escaped from the monster Typhon by leaping into the sea and transforming themselves into fish.[4] In order not to lose each other, they tied themselves together with rope. The Romans adopted the Greek legend, with Venus and Cupid acting as the counterparts for Aphrodite and Eros. The knot of the rope is marked by Alpha Piscium (α Psc), also called Al-Rischa ("the cord" in Arabic).[5]

Pisces Hevelius
Pisces in Hevelius' map (1690)

In 1690, the astronomer Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum regarded the constellation Pisces as being composed of four subdivisions:[6]

  • Piscis Boreus (the North Fish): σ – 68 – 65 – 67 – ψ1 – ψ2 – ψ3 – χ – φ – υ – 91 – τ – 82 – 78 Psc.
  • Linum Boreum (the North Cord):[6] χ – ρ,94 – VX(97) – η – π – ο – α Psc.
  • Linum Austrinum (the South Cord):[6] α – ξ – ν – μ – ζ – ε – δ – 41 – 35 – ω Psc.
  • Piscis Austrinus (the South Fish):[6] ω – ι – θ – 7 – β – 5 – κ,9 – λ – TX(19) Psc.

Be aware that Piscis Austrinus more often refers to a separate constellation in its own right. Both (smaller) fish depicted in Pisces are said to be the offspring of the one greater fish in the constellation Piscis Austrinus.

In 1754, the astronomer John Hill proposed to treat part of Pisces as a separate constellation, called Testudo (the Turtle)[7] 24 – 27 – YY(30) – 33 – 29 Psc.,[8] centred a natural but faint asterism in which the star 20 Psc is intended to be the head of the turtle. However the proposal was largely neglected by other astronomers with the exception of Admiral Smyth, who mentioned it in his book The Bedford Catalogue, and it is now obsolete.[9]

Western folklore

The Fishes are also associated with the German legend of Antenteh, who owned just a tub and a crude cabin when he met a magical fish. They offered him a wish, which he refused. However, his wife begged him to return to the fish and ask for a beautiful furnished home. This wish was granted, but her desires were not satisfied. She then asked to be a queen and have a palace, but when she asked to become a goddess, the fish became angry and took the palace and home, leaving the couple with the tub and cabin once again. The tub in the story is sometimes recognized as the Great Square of Pegasus.[5]

In non-Western astronomy

The stars of Pisces were incorporated into several constellations in Chinese astronomy. Wai-ping ("Outer Enclosure") was a fence that kept a pig farmer from falling into the marshes and kept the pigs where they belonged. It was represented by Alpha, Delta, Epsilon, Zeta, Mu, Nu, and Xi Piscium. The marshes were represented by the four stars designated Phi Ceti. The northern fish of Pisces was a part of the House of the Sandal, Koui-siou.[5]

Astrology

Pisces is a dim constellation located next to Aquarius, and Aries. While the astrological sign Pisces per definition runs from ecliptical longitude 330° to 0, this position is now mostly covered by the constellation of Aquarius, due to the precession from when the constellation and the sign coincided.

References

  1. ^ a b c d "Naming Stars". IAU.org. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Wilkins, Jamie; Dunn, Robert (2006). 300 Astronomical Objects: A Visual Reference to the Universe (1st ed.). Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books. ISBN 978-1-55407-175-3.
  3. ^ Origins of the ancient constellations: I. The Mesopotamian traditions by J. H. Rogers 1998, page 19 page 19 (table 3, rows 2-3) and page 27
  4. ^ P.K. Chen, A Constellation Album: Stars and Mythology of the Night Sky, p. 94 (2007, ISBN 978-1931559386).
  5. ^ a b c Staal 1988, pp. 45–47.
  6. ^ a b c d Hevelius, J., (1690) Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Leipzig, Fig.NN
  7. ^ Allen, R. H. (1963). Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (Reprint ed.). New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc. p. 163 342. ISBN 978-0-486-21079-7.
  8. ^ Ciofi, C., Torre, p., Costellazioni Estinte (nate dal 1700 al 1800): Sezione di Ricerca per la Cultura Astronomica
  9. ^ Smyth, W. H., (1884) The Bedford Catalogue

Sources

  • Ridpath, Ian; Tirion, Wil (2007). Stars and Planets Guide (4th ed.). Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13556-4.
  • Richard Hinckley Allen, Star Names, Their Lore and Legend, New York, Dover: various dates.
  • Staal, Julius D. W. (1988). The New Patterns in the Sky: Myths and Legends of the Stars. The McDonald and Woodward Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-939923-04-5.
  • Thomas Wm. Hamilton, Useful Star Names, Strategic Books, 2008.

External links

Coordinates: Sky map 01h 00m 00s, +15° 00′ 00″

NGC 138

NGC 138 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on August 29, 1864 by Albert Marth.

NGC 139

NGC 139 is a barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on August 29, 1864 by the German astronomer Albert Marth.

NGC 193

NGC 193 is a lenticular galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on December 21, 1786 by William Herschel.

NGC 194

NGC 194 is an elliptical galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on December 25, 1790 by William Herschel.

NGC 213

NGC 213 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on October 14, 1784 by William Herschel.

NGC 234

NGC 234 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on October 14, 1784 by William Herschel.

NGC 236

NGC 236 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on August 3, 1864 by Albert Marth.

NGC 240

NGC 240 is a lenticular or spiral galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on October 22, 1886 by Lewis Swift.

NGC 257

NGC 257 is a spiral galaxy in the Pisces constellation. It was discovered on December 29, 1790, by Frederick William Herschel.

NGC 282

NGC 282 is an elliptical galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on October 13, 1879 by Édouard Stephan.

NGC 313

NGC 313 is a triple star located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on November 29, 1850 by Bindon Stoney.

NGC 372

NGC 372 is a triple star located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on December 12, 1876 by Dreyer, who described it as "stellar, much brighter middle, mottled but not resolved."

NGC 373

NGC 373 is an elliptical galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on December 12, 1876 by Dreyer. It was described by Dreyer as "very faint, very small."

NGC 452

NGC 452 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered in 1827 by Sir John Herschel. It is about 5 arcminutes west of NGC 444.

NGC 453

NGC 453 is a triple star located in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered in 1881 by Édouard Stephan.

NGC 60

NGC 60 is an Sc type spiral galaxy in the Pisces constellation.

NGC 60 is noticed for its unusually distorted spiral arms, which are commonly due to gravitational effects of neighboring galaxies, but there are no galaxies around NGC 60 to allow this.

NGC 63

NGC 63 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It is located at RA 00h 17m 45.5s, dec −11° 27′ 01″, and has an apparent magnitude of 12.63.

NGC 75

NGC 75 is a lenticular galaxy estimated to be about 260 million light-years away in the constellation of Pisces. It was discovered by Lewis A. Swift from the USA in 1886 and its magnitude is 13.2.

NGC 99

NGC 99 is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It was discovered on 8 October 1883 by the French astronomer Édouard Stephan.

Stars of Pisces
Bayer
Flamsteed
Variable
HR
HD
Gliese
Other
Constellation history
Astrological signs
Western astrology
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