Lacerta

Lacerta

[luh-sur-tuh]
For the biological genus of lizards, see Lacerta (genus).
Lacerta (lizard), is one of the 88 official constellations acknowledged by the International Astronomical Union. It is not among Ptolemy's 48 ancient constellations. It was created ca. 1687 by the astronomer Johannes Hevelius. It does not contain any particularly bright stars, no Messier object, no galaxy brighter than 14.5m, no globular clusters nor does it contain a named star. Correspondingly, it is rather difficult to find. The northern part lies on the Milky Way. Lacerta is located between Cygnus, Cassiopeia and Andromeda on the northern celestial sphere. It has been likened to Cassiopeia because of its similar "W" shape. As such it is sometimes referred to as 'Little Cassiopeia'.

Notable features

Notable deep sky objects

Mythology

Being a modern constellation there is very little mythology surrounding Lacerta.

At about the same time as Johannes Hevelius adopted the name Lacerta, other names were proposed for this part of the sky, among them Sceptrum et Manus Iustitiae (= Scepter and the hand of Justice) and Frederick's Honors, but Lacerta was finally chosen as the official constellation for this region.

The same constellation was used by the Chumash as Lizard and is included in multiple stories. This constellation was supposed as one of many constellations encountered as one went to the Land-of-the-Dead.

In modern fiction, the constellation plays a notable role in Greg Egan's novel Diaspora, where a collision between a pair of hypothetical neutron stars in the constellation results in a gamma ray burst which wipes out biological life on earth.

Citations

References

  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0007251209. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0691135564.

External links


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