Cassiopeia is the legendary queen of Ethiopia and wife of the king, Cepheus. The royal couple had a daughter Andromeda who Cassiopeia was forced to offer up to a sea monster because she had offended the sea nymphs boasting about her beauty. Cassiopeia was later transported to the sky, where she sits on her throne and circles the pole. This group of stars was also seen by the Arabs as a hand or a kneeling camel. The Eskimos called it the stone lamp.

For the Observer

Sky Chart of North Circumpolar Stars

Alpha Cassiopeia Shedar (00h 41m +56° 32') is a 2.2 magnitude yellow class KO star 150 light years distant. It has a luminosity 200 times greater than the Sun. Shedar has an optical 9..0 magnitude companion of blue-white color. The star has a transit on November 16th.

Beta Cassiopeia Caph (00h 09m +59° 09') is a 2.3 magnitude blue-white class F2 star. It is 46 light years distant. Caph is a pulsating variable, though difficult to observe because it only ranges from 2.25 to 2.31. Caph is about 20 times brighter than the Sun. The star has a transit date of Nov. 8th.

Gamma Cassiopeia (00h 57m +60° 43') is a 2.5 magnitude blue-white subgiant star, class B0. The star is an erratic variable that reached a maximum brightness in 1937, but then unexpectedly dropped in surface temperature from 12,000°K to 8500°K. It has an 11th magnitude companion. Distance to the star has been estimated between 200 and 600 light years. It is too distant for trigonometric parallax and because of its variable tendencies, standard methods of computing distance will not work well.

M52 (NGC 7654) (23h 22m +61° 20') is an open cluster of magnitude 7.3. It is a loose cluster of about 200 stars, 7000 light years distant. M52 is a young cluster, probably about as old as the Pleiades and contains many young blue giant stars.

NGC 129 (00h 27m +59° 57') is an open cluster with a magnitude of 10. NGC 225 (00h 40m.6 +61° 31') is an open cluster with a magnitude of 9. It is a nice cluster in small scopes.

NGC 457 (01h 15m.9 +58° 04') is an open cluster of magnitude 7.5. It contains over 100 stars.

NGC 663 (01h 42m.5 +61° 00') Open cluster of magnitude 7.1. This cluster is easily visible in binoculars.

Copyright © 1995 - 2003
Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator