Hercules the Hero


This is an old constellation, the Phoenicians called it their god Melkarth, the Greeks called it the Phantom. We know it most commonly as Hercules, the hero who had 12 labors to perform to demonstrate his courage and heroism. Hercules death was a sad story, we are told that our hero put on a tunic that contained a deadly poison. So tortured by this he was that he climbed a mountain, built a funeral pyre and perished in its fires. Jupiter was so touched by this that he had a cloud descend to Hercules, pick him up and carry him to his place in the sky.

For the Observer

The Stars of Summer

Alpha Herculis, Ras Algethi (17h12m.4 +14°27') is a bright irregular variable which varies in magnitude from 3.1 to 3.9 in a period of about 90 days. Reddish in color, the star is a class M5 giant. The star is also a double, and the color contrast of orange and greenish is quite striking. The companion has a magnitude of 5.39.

Beta Herculis, Kornephoros (16h30m +21°29') is a yellow giant class G7 star with a magnitude of 2.8. the star is about 110 light years distant.

Delta Herculis (17h13m +24°54') has a magnitude of 3.14 and is a class A3 star about 95 light years distant. The star is an optical double with an 8th magnitude companion. The colors of the pair are greenish and lilac.

M13 (NGC6205) (16h39m.9 +36°33') This is a popular globular cluster which can be seen without aid in a really dark sky. The cluster has a diameter of about 130 light years and is about 25000 light years distant. There are a few hundred thousand stars in the cluster.

M92 (NGC6341) (17h15m.6 +43°12') This is another globular cluster nearly as bright as M13. Though it is physically nearly as big, at 100 light years across, and closer, 20000 light years, the stars are fainter.

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