Cassiopeia – the constellation of the vain queen

Her unrivalled beauty on show, Cassiopeia is the dinsitnctive ‘W” in the sky – laid back on her throne and looking in the mirror as she combs her hair.

Cassiopeia is best viewed around November in the Northern Hemisphere, but you might get lucky and catch a glimpse of the Queen looking to the North East from mid-summer.

The five bright stars that form the ‘W’ asterism are called:

  • Caph (β beta) – forms the shoulder of the Queen;
  • Shedir (α alpha)
  • Tsih (γ gamma)
  • Ruchbah (δ delta)
  • Segin (ε epsilon) – the Queen’s ankle.

Using Cassiopeia to find the Andromeda galaxy

The constellation of Cassiopeia and how to find Andromeda galaxy

The constellation of Cassiopeia and how to find Andromeda galaxy. Click to embiggen! Made using Stellarium.

Lying in the hazy band of the Milky Way, Cassiopeia is also useful for pointing out another galaxy – Andromeda. Andromeda is 2.4 million light years away from us and the furthest object you can see using just your eyes. Use the ‘W’ asterism to point out of the Milky Way towards our neighbouring galaxy.

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About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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