Cepheus the King


This constellation is believed to date as far back as 23 centuries and that is was recognized by the Chaldeans. Cepheus, King of Ethiopia, and husband of the vain Caaaiopeia sits on his throne as he circles the pole. It has also been said that Cepheus was one of the Argonauts and that he accompanied Jason on the quest for the golden fleece. For his honor and bravery, he was placed in the sky. The Chinese regarded these stars highly and associated them with royalty by calling them the Inner Throne of the Five Emperors. The Arabs saw in these stars a shepherd, his dog and a flock of sheep.

For the Observer

Sky Chart of North Circumpolar Stars

Alpha Cehpei, Alderamin (21h 19m +62° 35') is a 2.4 magnitude blue-white class A7 star. 50 light years distant, this star has a luminosity 21 times greater than the Sun. The star is an optical double, the companion being 10.5 in magnitude This star lies along the Earth's precessional path and will replace Polaris as the pole star around 7500 AD.

Beta Cephei Alfirk (21h 28m +70° 20') has a magnitude of 3.15 though it is slightly variable. The star is a class B2 and is about 980 light years distant. Alfirk has a companion of magnitude 8 and is a class !3.

Gamma Cephei, Er Rai (23h 37m.3 +77° 21') has a magnitude of 3.21 and is a class K1. It lies about 50 light years distant. This star too, lies along the Earth's precessional path and will be nearest the pole in about 2000 years.

Delta Cephei (22h 27m.3 +58° 10') is the named example of cehpeid variables, a type of short period pulsating variables whose fluctuations in brightness is not due to the star being an eclipsing binary. This star is a class F5. The magnitude range is from 3.6 to 4.3 and may be viewed easily as it has a short period of 5.36 days. The rise to maximum brightness takes only 1.5 days.

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Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator