Aquarius (constellation)

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Aquarius constellation
Aquarius constellation map.png
Latin name Aquarius
Latin genitive Aquarii
Abbreviation Aqr
Right ascension 20381920 h 38 m 19 s to  23 h 56 m 27 s235627
declination 1754585−24 ° 54 ′ 15 ″ to  + 3 ° 19 ′ 32 ″2031932
surface 979.854 deg²
rank 10
Completely visible 65.0 ° N to 87.1 ° S
Observation time for Central Europe (June) Aug - Nov (January)
Number of stars brighter than 3 mag 2
Brightest star (size) Sadalsuud (2.90)
Meteor streams
Neighboring constellations
clockwise from north )
swell IAU ,

The Wassermann ( latin Aquarius , ancient Egyptian giant ; astronomical ♒ mark) is a constellation of the ecliptic .


Aquarius is an expansive but inconspicuous constellation south of Pegasus . Only two of its stars appear brighter than the 3rd magnitude . The sun is in Aquarius from February 16 to March 21 of each year.

The radian of two annual swarms of shooting stars lies in this constellation: the May aquariids and the July aquariids .


The Aquarius constellation as seen with the naked eye

Although Aquarius is not a noticeable constellation, it is counted among the oldest known constellations. For the ancients it must have had a great importance as a calendar symbol: When the sun moved into Aquarius, this marked the time of the rainy season, which is where the name might come from. Several constellations in the area - such as the fish , the whale , the southern fish and the dolphin - also have a connection to the water.

In the 1960s, the constellation became very famous because the astrological " Age of Aquarius " was said to have dawned (sung in the song "Aquarius" from the musical Hair ), in which the equinox due to the precession from the sign of Pisces into Aquarius should pass over. In fact, there are no standard definitions of astrological ages. The fact that the vernal equinox moves into the constellation Aquarius is only possible from the year 2440, depending on the definition of the constellation boundary.

The zodiac sign Aquarius goes back to this constellation.


There are several interpretations of the mythological origin of the name.
On the one hand, the Aquarius is supposed to represent Deucalion , who survived the Flood and became the progenitor of the people. When Zeus wanted to wipe out sinful mankind, Deucalion built a boat with which he and his wife Pyrrha drifted on the water for nine days and nights until they landed on Mount Parnassus . Following an oracle , the two stones threw behind them, from which new people emerged.

According to other interpretations, Aquarius is said to be Kekrops I , the founder of Athens , or Ganymede , Zeus' cupbearer .


According to the controversial film Zeitgeist , the Bible passage Mk 14,12-16  EU is supposed to refer to Aquarius and symbolize the migration of the vernal equinox into the constellation. There it says:

“And on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was slaughtered, his disciples said to him: Where do you want us to go and prepare so that you can eat the Passover? And he sends two of his disciples and says to them: Go into the city and you will meet a person who carries a jug of water. Follow him! [...] "

Celestial objects

See also list of stars in the constellation Aquarius


m / mag
M / mag
Distance / Lj
Spectral class
102β 22nd Sadalsuud 2.90 −3.5 610 G0 Ib
101α 34 Sadalmelik 2.95 −3.9 760 G2 Ib
104δ 76 Skat , Scheat 3.27 −0.2 160 A3 V
103γ 48 Sadachbia , Sadalachbia 3.86 0.44 158 A0
111λ 73 Hydor, Ekkhysis 3.73 −1.7 390 M2 III
105ε 2 Albali 3.78 −0.46 230 A1 V
107η 62 4.04 0.29 184 B9 IV
108θ 43 Ancha 4.17 0.33 191 G8 III-IV
121φ 90 4.22 0.05 222 M2 III
113ν 13 Abulaan 4.50 1.00 164 G8 III
114ξ 23 Bunda 4.68 1.0 179 A7 V

Beta Aquarii is the brightest star in Aquarius with an apparent magnitude of 2.90 m . It is a supergiant of the spectral class G0 Ib about 610 light years away. The name Sadalsuud is of Arabic origin and means something like "the happiness of happiness".

The second brightest star, Alpha Aquarii ( Sadalmelik , Arabic for "the king's luck") is a supergiant of the spectral class G2 Ib, 760 light years away. It has 80 times the diameter and 6,000 times the luminosity of our sun .

Gamma Aquarii ( Sadachbia , Arabic for "the happiness of the tents") is 158 light years away.

Delta Aquarii is a 160 light-years distant star belonging to the spectral class A3 V. The origin of its name Skat is usually called "leg". Originally it could also have meant “wish”.

Double stars

system m / mag distance
ζ 4.42 / 4.59 1.67 "
ψ 4.24 / 10/10 49.6 / 0.3 "
ω 2 4.49 / 4.97 46.8 "
τ 2 4.05 / 5.86 39 "
41 5.6 / 7.1 5.0 "
94 5.3 / 7.3 12.6 "
101 4.8 / 7.1 1.2 "
104 4.82 / 8.58 113 "
κ 5.04 / 8.8 98.8 "
107 5.7 / 6.7 6.8 "

ζ Aqr is a binary star system 105 light years away. Two stars of roughly the same size circle around a common center of gravity, which takes them around 800 years. The system can be resolved into two white, roughly equally bright stars in a small telescope .

Variable stars

object m / mag period Type
λ 3.73 to 3.8 24.5 days semi-regularly variable star
π 4.42 to 4.70 Gamma Cassiopeia star
ο 4.68 to 4.89 Gamma Cassiopeia star
R. 5.2 to 12.4 387 days Symbiotic star , Mira star

R Aquarii is a symbiotic star 1,000 light years away, with the brighter component also being a Mira star. The star changes its brightness over a period of 387 days, with periodic fluctuations occurring in a rhythm of 24 years. At its maximum, the star is 5.2 m bright and can barely be seen with the naked eye. At a minimum, it only achieves a brightness of 12.4 m . To find it you need a larger telescope.

Messier and NGC objects

Messier (M) NGC other m / mag Type Surname
2 7089 6.4 Globular clusters
72 6981 9.5 Globular clusters
73 6994 8.5 Open star cluster
7009 9 Planetary nebula Saturn Nebula
7184 11 Galaxy
7293 7th Planetary nebula Helix Nebula
7492 11 Globular clusters
7606 11 Galaxy
7727 10 Galaxy

In Aquarius there are three objects that the French astronomer and comet hunter Charles Messier included in his catalog of foggy objects ( Messier catalog ).

M2 is a globular cluster about 50,000 light years away. Even in binoculars it can be seen as a misty spot. In order to resolve it into single stars at the edge, however, you need a telescope.

M72 is a globular cluster about 60,000 light years away. It is the faintest globular cluster in the Messier catalog and can only be resolved in large telescopes.

M73 is not a real star cluster, but a group of four stars 2,000 light years apart.

The planetary nebula NGC 7009 , also known as the Saturn Nebula , is around 3000 light years away . With its elliptical shape it is somewhat reminiscent of the ring planet Saturn when observed in the telescope at low magnification.

In the southern part you can find the Helix Nebula . This is a planetary nebula 500 light years away. With a diameter of 13 arc minutes and a brightness of 7 m , it is the largest and brightest planetary nebula in the night sky. On a dark night you can see it in binoculars as a round, misty spot. To see structures, however, you need a telescope.

See also

Web links

Commons : Aquarius  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ The Age of Aquarius or the Kingdom of God - what is in store for us? Retrieved June 30, 2020 .