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Aquarius: The water-bearer
Transcript of Aquarius: The water-bearer
By: Amber Chadwick
The most commonly accepted myth about this constellation is that the person pictured is Ganymede, the son of King Tros. Ganymede was a beautiful youth in Troy that grabbed the attention of Zeus. Zeus then tranformed into an eagle (the constellation Aquila) and carried him off to Olympus to be the cup (or water) bearer for all eternity.
Sadalsuud (beta Aquarii) is the brightest star in Aquarius and is a yellow supergiant. It has an apparent magnitude of 2.91 and is about 610 light years away. Its surface temperature is 5600 K and its name comes from the Arabic phrase sa’d al-suud: the “luck of lucks.” Sadalsuud has is six times the Sun's mass and is 2,200 times brighter.
Sadalmelik is a yellow supergiant 800 light years away. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 2.950. Its name is from the Arabic phrase sa’d al-malik, which means “luck of the king.” Sadalmelik is also known as alpha Aquarii and is in the right shoulder of Ganymede. Its surface temperature is a little under 6000 K. It is considered a "hybrid star" because it has magnetic fields that make its corona and "cool" winds.
Skat’s name is from the Arabic phrase as-saq (leg or shin) and is classified as a white class A dwarf. Skat is the third brightest star in Aquarius and has an apparent magnitude of 3.269. It is about 160 light years away and its surface temperature is 8525 K. Skat (delta Aquarii) is known for a meteor shower, the Delta Aquariids. The Southern Delta Aquariids shower is seen from mid-July to mid-August, usually on July 28 or 29. There is also the Northern Delta Aquariids, which last from July 16 to September 10 and center around the middle of August.
Sadachbia (gamma Aquarii) has an apparent visual magnitude of 3.84 and is 158 light years distant. Its name is derived from the Arabic phrase sa’d al-axbiyah, which means “luck of the homes” (tents). Its surface temperature is 9500 K and is classified as a greenish "hot class A" star. An unknown star orbits Sadachbia at about the distance Mercury is from our Sun. It is also located in Aquarius's "Urn" and is the sixth brightest star.
Sadaltager, zeta Aquarii, is a binary star: a system of two stars with one star revolving around the other. It has an apparent magnitude of 4.42 and is about 103 light years away. Its name is from the Arabic expression sa’d al-tajir, which means “luck of the merchant.” The brighter star Zeta-2 Aquarii, is a yellow-white F-type dwarf, and the other, Zeta-1 Aquarii, is a yellow-white F-type subgiant. Both stars are about 7000 K.
R Aquarii is a binary star, made of a white dwarf and a red giant. The white dwarf star’s gravity draws in the red giant’s material and sometimes gives off the extra which forms a nebula around the system. The nebula is named Cederblad 211. R Aquarii has an apparent visual magnitude of 7.69 and is approximately 600 light years distant.
This is the first picture of the star system R-Aquarii. The two dark blobs at the center of the image is the system. The ghost-like gas is actually the nebula, which is made of plasma. The plasma stems out as a 400 billion kilometer-long geyser, is twisted by the force of the explosion and shot upwards by strong magnetic fields.
Aquarius, known as the water-bearer, is located in a part of the sky called the "Sea" because a lot of other water-related constellations are found there as well. Some constellations it is near are Pisces, the fish; Cetus, the whale; and Capricornius, the sea goat.
Aquarius is located almost directly on the equator, so it can be seen from both hemispheres. You can see it in the southern hemisphere really well in the spring, and you can see it almost perfectly in the northern hemisphere on a clear October night around 9 pm.
Aquarius is most known for being a constellation of the zodiac in astrology. Most people associate it with January 20 through February 18, but according to Mr. Edmondson, it's actually from February 17 through March 11.
The Helix Nebula
One of the most commonly known stellar objects of Aquarius is the Helix Nebula, which we did an APOD over a while ago. The Helix Nebula is seven hundred light years from Earth. It is produced by a dying star, a white dwarf. Most of the Nebula is in infared light, so they have to use false coloring in most of the images they take to be able to see the full nebula. The nebula is over six light-years across.
Tyler Olcott, William. A Field Book of the Stars. New York: Knickerbocker, 1907. Print.