Star Names:

Aries


Map of The Constellation of Aries
Please hover over any star to get more information
Aries is a constellation in the northern hemisphere. Its name means "ram" in Latin. In Greek mythology, the constellation is identified with the myth of the Golden Fleece, sought by Jason and the Argonauts. It is said that the ram was offspring of Poseidon. In the myth, it helped king Athamas' children Phrixus and Helle escape over the sea after their step-mother had arranged a plot to have them killed. The daughter lost her grip and fell into the channel separating Europe and Asia, later named the Hellespont in her memory. Once Phrixus reached Colchis (modern-day Georgia), he sacrificed the ram to Poseidon and presented it to king Aeetes, who hung the Golden Fleece in a grove where it was protected by a dragon (a huge serpent in some tales). In the meantime, Phrixus' cousin Pelias took the throne in Iolcus, Thessaly, and would not cede it to the true successor, Jason, unless the latter brought the fleece home. Jason then led an expedition and, helped by Aeetes' daughter Medea, stole the fleece, escaped, and later hung the fleece in the temple of Zeus at Orchomeus.

The Aries constellation occupies an area of 441 square degrees and contains four stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -60° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of December. Aries carried special importance in Greek astronomy because, in ancient times, it contained the vernal equinox, the point at which the Sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south. In tropical astrology, the Sun still enters Aries on the vernal equinox, the first day of the spring. In sidereal astrology, however, the vernal equinox has moved to the constellation Pisces, and the Sun now passes through Aries from March 21 to April 20.

The stars [630], [631] and [638]-[640] (alpha, beta and gamma Arietis respectively) mark the ram’s head and horns. The brightest star of Aries, [630] alpha Arietis, is also known as El Nath and Hamal, or "the head of the sheep." It is a K-type giant that shines with a reddish colour and has a mass twice that of the Sun.

[631] beta Arietis, is also called Sheratan, or "the two signs," referring to the star once having marked the vernal equinox together with [638]-[640] gamma Arietis. It is a white main sequence star lying about 60 light-years away from Earth.

Gamma Arietis or Mesarthim (origin obscure) is a triple star that includes [638], a binary system with two white A-type main sequence stars, and [640], a K-type star orbiting the binary. It was one of the first double stars to be discovered, spotted in 1664 by Robert Hooke while he was looking for a comet.

Other notable stars in the Aries constellation are [639] lambda Arietis, a binary star with a yellow-white dwarf for a primary, [647] pi Arietis, a star system 603 light-years distant, with a blue-white dwarf for a primary, 41 Arietis or Bharani, a variable star 160 light-years away from Earth, [633] delta Arietis or Botein ("belly"), an orange K-type giant 168 light-years away, and 30 Arietis, a double star easily spotted in smaller telescopes, that consists of a distinctly yellow brighter star and a bluish companion star 40 arcseconds away. Teegarden’s star, an M-type red dwarf, also lies in the Aries constellation, but can only be seen with a large telescope.

The constellation Aries also contains an interesting deep sky object. Spiral galaxy NGC 772, when observed with a larger telescope, shows a spiral arm, but appears only as a small misty patch near [631] beta Arietis, when viewed with a 4.5-inch telescope. Galaxy NGC 697 is also located near [631] beta Arietis. Two other galaxies to observe are NGC 972 and NGC 1156.

Aries belongs to the Zodiac family of constellations, along with Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces, Taurus, Gemini and Cancer.

Constellations directly bordering Aries are Perseus, Pisces, Triangulum, Cetus and Taurus.


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