Everything You Need to Know About the Aquarius Star Constellation
When can you see the Aquarius star constellation and what does it mean? Learn the answers to common Aquarius star constellation questions right here.
Aquarius is one of the 13 constellations of the zodiac. Even if you are new to the world of star constellations, it is likely that you have heard of the Aquarius star constellation before. If you want to learn more about the Aquarius constellation, you can do so here, including its history and what it represents, where it is, when you can see Aquarius in the UK – and much more!
The History and Mythology of the Aquarius Star Constellation
The origins of the word Aquarius comes from Latin and was used to mean water-bearer. This is why the constellation is sometimes connected to Ea, a mythological Babylonian God who was often depicted carrying a vase with overflowing water. Yet, in Greek Mythology, Aquarius is aligned with multiple figures, such as Ganymede who worked as a cup carrier for the gods, and Cecrops I, who is said to have sacrificed water to the gods instead of the traditional wine.
We have known about the Aquarius constellation for some time. In fact, it was recorded in the 2nd century by an influential Greek astronomer and mathematician by the name of Claudius Ptolemy. During this period, only 48 constellations were recorded compared to the 88 recognised constellations by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) today. Yet, there is evidence to suggest that Ptolemy was not the first to know about Aquarius and we may have identified the constellation long before.
So, What Does the Aquarius Star Constellation Look Like?
Constellations are created by joining the dots between certain stars. For most people, joining the dots is not enough for them to see the images that a constellation is supposed to represent. When you see the image of Aquarius just below, you probably would not see a young male pouring water out of a vase-like jug. The depiction is taken further so that the water pours into the mouth of a fish. This larger image is made possible by using the star constellation below, namely Pisces which depicts said fish.
Notable Stars in the Aquarius Constellation
The Aquarius constellation is not known to be a particularly bright constellation. However, one of its stars is exceptionally rare. It goes by the name of Beta Aquarii, or sometimes Sadalsuud. It is the brightest star of the Aquarius star constellation and is one of the few yellow supergiants. It also:
- Has a magnitude approximately 2.87
- Is 540 light years away
- Is x2200 more luminous than our Sun
- Has a mass six-times greater than the Sun
Another notable star from the constellation is Alpha Aquarii, also referred to as Sadalmelik. It is even further away from the earth at a distance around 800 light years. Its magnitude has been recorded as 2,950 and is x3000 more luminous that the earth’s Sun.
Where Is the Aquarius Star Constellation?
The constellation is located in a part of the sky that was given the nickname ‘The Sea’. The reason for this is because many of the neighbouring star constellations in this part of the sky also have water symbolism. For example, Aquarius is near Eridanus, Cetus, Capricornus and the aforementioned Pisces, which mean the river, whale, sea goat and fish, respectively. Aquarius is located in the Southern Hemisphere’s Fourth Quadrant (SQ4). It can be seen at latitudes between +65 and -90 degrees. Newcomers to star gazing may want to start by looking for Aquarius as this constellation is in the top 10 largest constellations, covering a whopping 980 square degrees.
When Can I See the Aquarius Constellation in the UK?
Aquarius can be seen in both hemispheres, unlike some other constellations which are only visible from one hemisphere. It starts to become visible from 9pm in the middle to the end of October. Even though some of the stars in the constellation are bright, the constellation includes no significantly bright stars. This means to see the Aquarius constellation, you will need a clear night with low levels of light pollution. If you are struggling to see the constellation, one top tip is to look for the brightest star in the region, which is a star from the Piscis Austrinus constellation below, known as Fomalhaut. This bright star will be low on the horizon, but just above it, although much fainter, you will be able to start tracing the Aquarius constellation.
How Far Is the Aquarius Constellation from Earth?
When looking from Earth at the Aquarius star constellation, it is easy to think that the stars we are looking at are all near each other. However, this is not the case and some of the stars are closer to us than others, although none of them are close at all. The closest star from the constellation to us is called EZ Aquarii, which is 11.27 light years from us. Some of the other stars in the constellation are over 500 light years away, which means we are much closer to some of these stars than they are to each other.
Other Fun Facts About the Aquarius Constellation
If the information above wasn’t enough to help you score points on quiz night, here are some more interesting facts about the Aquarius constellation:
- The Beta Aquarii star of the constellation was called Lucida Fortunae Fortunarum in Latin, which translates to the brightest luck.
- Four meteor showers occur in the constellation each year. The most impressive is called the Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower and takes place between the middle of July to the middle of August. During the peak of activity, this shower can produce 20 meteors each hour.
- ‘The age of Aquarius’ will begin in the year 2597. Confused? Well, an ‘age’ in astronomical terms is defined by which constellation the Sun appears in at the beginning of Spring. The age of Pisces began in 68 BC – and the age of Aquarius is next!
What’s brighter than any star from the Aquarius constellation? A loved one’s smile when you get them a cool astronomical-themed gift. There are so many cool gifts you can get that relate to the stars. Some people even choose to name a star for their loved ones on their birthday or special occasion.