Cetus is the legendary whale, or sea monster. Often it is the sea monster that was sent to devour Andromeda in the Cassiopeia ordeal. The Babylonians referred to this area of the sky as the chaos of the deep and Aratus called this group of stars the dusky monster.

For the Observer

Autumn and Winter Skies

Alpha Ceti, Menkar (03h 02m +4°5') has a magnitude of 2.5 and is 150 light years distant. Menkar is an orange giant class M2 star.

Beta Ceti, Deneb Kaitos (00h 41m.1 -18°16') Has a magnitude of 2.0 and is a class K1 star 60 light years distant.

Gamma Ceti (02h 40m.7 +03° 02') Is a 3.6 magnitude class A2 star, 70 light years distant. It is a triple system. The brighter companion has a magnitude of 6.2. The fainter companion is a dim 10th magnitude red dwarf.

Omicron Ceti, Mira (02h 16m.8 -03° 12') Mira means the wonderful and is the most popular of the long period pulsating variables. It varies in magnitude from 3rd to 9th in about 331 days.

M77 (NGC 1068) (02h 40m.1 -00° 14') This is a compact spiral galaxy of a magnitude of 10. It is a strange system containing 3 distinct spiral arms. It is at a distance of 60 million light years.

NGC 247 (00h 44m.6 -21° 01') A very large but faint spiral galaxy of 11th magnitude. It is estimated to be about 7 light years distant.

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