Andromeda Constellation – Interesting Facts and History

Look for Andromeda in the northern hemisphere autumn skies looking north. Carolyn Collins Petersen

The constellation Andromeda is a spiral galaxy. 

The constellation of Andromeda is a very interesting and unusual phenomenon of the skysphere, which everyone can observe. There are many different myths and legends about the formation of the constellation Andromeda. Let’s analyze the history of the name and the myths in more detail.

The Andromeda constellation is known to everyone thanks to a spiral galaxy called the Andromeda Nebula. It occupies the 19th place among all the constellations of the nebosphere and the 11th largest angular area of the northern sky. The zero meridian passes through the constellation Andromeda, which in turn passes through the point of the vernal equinox.

Andromeda is known because of the Nebula. In fact, the Andromeda Nebula is a galaxy. The three brightest stars of the constellation do not exceed the third magnitude in magnitude.

Andromeda borders on five constellations, these include:

  • Cassiopeia
  • Perseus
  • Fish
  • Triangle
  • Pegasus and Lizard

And the constellation itself belongs to the group of constellations of Perseus, which was created by Donald Menzel based on the myth of Perseus and Andromeda. The constellation is best observed in the period from September 9 to November 3, at which time Andromeda is clearly visible at midnight. 

In the constellation of all the stars, only the three brightest are:

  • Alamak
  • Worlds
  • Alferats

Five more stars belong to the fourth stellar magnitude, including the Andromeda Nebula. But, oddly enough, out of the five stars, only two received their own names – these are “Nebus” and “Sadr Elazra”. The name of the star “Sadr Elazra” comes from the Arabic “al-sadr al-adhra”, which means”The Heart of a Girl”.

How to find the Andromeda constellation?

There are several ways to find a constellation:

1. Usually knowledgeable people find the constellation with the help of the stars of Cassiopeia. But, if this is the first experience, then it is best to look for Andromeda using two constellations: Ursa Minor and Cassiopeia. Here you should mentally draw a line from the North Star to the lowest star-the Throne of Cassiopeia Kafu and continue the line even further, so the line will definitely lead to Alferats (the brightest star of Andromeda).

2. You can also find the constellation of Andromeda by using the stars of Cassiopeia. All of Andromeda’s brightest stars are located between Kaf-Shedar and Navi-Shedar. If you mentally draw a line from Navi-Ahidr, it will lead to Alferats.

The Andromeda Nebula galaxy

The very first written mention of the Constellation Nebula was in the late 10th century. Then, in 964, the Persian astronomer si-Sufa finished the creation of his book – “The Book of fixed Stars”, in which he mentioned a certain phenomenon “fog spot”.

And after that, the first detailed description of the celestial phenomenon appeared only six centuries later in 1612. German astronomer Simon Marius studied the so-called “fog spot” through a telescope. So the star map maker gave this phenomenon a new name – “extended nebulous object” and entered the coordinates on the map. For the next three centuries, the “extended nebula object” was touted as “Great Andromeda Nebula”.

The final conclusion that the Andromeda Nebula is, after all, a galaxy was made in the 1920s. Then the English astronomical society renamed “Great Andromeda Nebula” to the name in short “Andromeda Galaxy”.

Mythology of the Andromeda constellation

The Andromeda constellation, from Uranographia by Johannes Hevelius (1690). Credit:

According to myths, there are several options for the formation of a constellation. One of the myths says that the ancient Greeks compared the constellation with the image of a girl chained to a rock, who became a victim of maternal love and pride. It was believed that Queen Cassiopeia, the mother of Andromeda, accidentally expressed an opinion about the appearance of her daughter and the daughters of the sea king – ” No, and yet you are my most beautiful!” Cassiopeia said. But the Nereids had an unusual hearing and they distorted this statement. “Cassiopeia said that her daughter is the most beautiful of all, and we are real monsters.”- the king was angry, and sent the monster Cetus to destroy the coast and chain Andromeda to a rock on the seashore. No one could disobey the God of heaven. Now in the sky you can see the scene: Andromeda chained to a rock and Queen Cassiopeia, calling for help from Perseus flying nearby.   

And another myth about Perseus and Andromeda

After the victory of Perseus over Medusa Gorgon, he, returning home on his winged horse Pegasus, noticed a girl chained to a rock on the seashore and a large number of people gathered nearby. He landed next to the girl, and immediately liked her. And her name was Andromeda. Perseus learned that she was a princess and that she had been sacrificed to Cetus in order to stop the calamities that this monster was causing. Perseus decided to fight the monster, but instead asked for the hand of Andromeda from her parents, in case of his victory over Cetus. The parents gave their consent. And then Cetus appeared out of the water in the distance. In a difficult battle, Perseus managed to win thanks to a sword that was given to him by the gods. So Perseus saved Andromeda, they got married, and their children became the ancestors of the Persian people. This myth, with a good ending, was more in demand.

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