Star Names:

Lacerta


Map of The Constellation of Lacerta
Please hover over any star to get more information
Lacerta is a small, faint constellation in the northern hemisphere. Its name means "lizard" in Latin. Lacerta was created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the late 17th century. It is sometimes called Little Cassiopeia because its brightest stars form the shape of a "W," much like the ones in the constellation Cassiopeia.

The Chinese know the stars in Lacerta, along with several in the constellation Andromeda, as Tengshe, the flying serpent of the heavens. A legend associated with Lacerta comes from the Chumash people, who called the constellation Lizard and believed it was one of the constellations people encountered on their way to the Land of the Dead.

The constellation Lacerta occupies an area of 201 square degrees and contains one star with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -40° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of October.

The brightest star in Lacerta is [4739] alpha Lacertae, a bluish-white main sequence star and an optical binary with an apparent magnitude of 3.777.

Two other notable stars in the constellation are Roe 47, a star system with five components, and ADS 16402, a binary system consisting of two stars similar to the Sun, with a rather unusual extrasolar planet, a hot Jupiter-like gas giant with unusually low density, orbiting the secondary component.

Lacerta does not contain any Messier objects, bright galaxies or globular clusters. It does, however, contain a number of open clusters and double stars, as well as IC 5271, a faint planetary nebula.

NGC 7243, also known as Caldwell 16, is an open star cluster near [4739] alpha Lacertae, composed mostly of blue and white stars, lying about 2,800 light-years away.

Another notable deep sky object in Lacerta is BL Lacertae, originally thought to be a variable star and given a star designation. It is in fact the prototypical blazar (blazing quasi-stellar object), a highly compact quasar associated with a supermassive black hole presumed to be lying at the core of an active giant elliptical galaxy. Blazars are some of the most violent phenomena observed in the universe.

Lacerta belongs to the Perseus family of constellations, along with Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Andromeda, Perseus, Pegasus, Cetus, Auriga and Triangulum.

Constellations directly bordering Lacerta are Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Cygnus and Pegasus.



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