Star Names:

Pisces


Map of The Constellation of Pisces
Please hover over any star to get more information
Pisces is a relatively large, yet faint constellation in the northern hemisphere. It was introduced by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Its name is Latin for "fish" (plural). It is usually depicted as two fish swimming in opposite directions, connected at the tails by a piece of string.

In Greek mythology, the constellation Pisces is associated with the fish into which the goddess Aphrodite and her son Eros transformed in the Euphrates while fleeing from the monster Typhon. In another story, the two fish that were placed in the sky were the ones that carried Aphrodite and Eros to safety.

The constellation Pisces occupies an area of 889 square degrees and contains five stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -65° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of November. In sidereal astrology, the Sun moves through Pisces from March 15 to April 14. In tropical astrology, it is said to be in the sign Pisces between February 20 and March 20.

The constellation contains the vernal equinox, the point at which the Sun crosses the equator and moves to the northern hemisphere each year. The vernal equinox was previously located in the constellation Aries.

Pisces does not have any stars brighter than fourth magnitude. The brightest star in the constellation is [6732] eta Piscium, also known as Alpherg or Kullat Nunu. It is a bright class G giant star with a faint companion, lying approximately 294 light-years from Earth. The star’s luminosity is 316 times that of the Sun.

[6733] gamma Piscium, the second brightest star, is a yellow giant approximately 130 light-years distant.

[6739] alpha Piscium or Alrescha ("the cord") marks the point where the cords joining the tails are knotted together. It is the third brightest star in Pisces. It consists of a close pair of white dwarfs.

[6734] omega Piscium is another dwarf, lying about 106 light-years away. It is a suspected binary star.

[6735] iota Piscium is a yellow main sequence dwarf approximately 45 light-years distant. It is a suspected variable star.

[6745] beta Piscium has a magnitude of 4.53 and is about 492 light-years distant. It is also known as Fum al Samakah, which is Arabic for "mouth of the fish."

Another interesting object in Pisces is Van Maanen’s Star, the nearest single white dwarf to the Sun and the 31st closest star system. The only white dwarf stars closer to our solar system are Sirius B in the constellation Canis Major and [1537] Procyon in Canis Minor. Van Maanen’s Star is only 14.1 light-years distant from the Sun. It was named after Adrian van Maanen, the Dutch astronomer who discovered it in 1917.

Pisces also contains a notable Messier object. Messier 74 (NGC 628) is a spiral galaxy that can be seen face-on. Two supernovae have been observed in it in the last decade: SN 2002ap and SN 2003gd. Because the galaxy’s spiral arms are so clearly defined, Messier 74 is one of the best examples of a grand design spiral galaxy. Its disk and spiral arms contain star forming regions and have low surface density, which is why the object is a difficult one for amateur astronomers to observe. The galaxy can be spotted between [630] alpha Arietis and [6732] eta Piscium.

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

Constellations directly bordering Pisces are Triangulum, Andromeda, Pegasus, Aquarius, Cetus and Aries.



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