Constellations > Whale

Whale is a constellation located in the northern sky and is one of the largest constellations.

The original name Cetus is the name of a sea monster from the ancient Greek myth of Andromeda. She was sacrificed to a monster to save the kingdom of her father (through the fault of Cassiopeia – her mother). The whale is located in a heavenly area called Water, where other constellations with a water association are collected: Eridanus (river), Aquarius (water carrier), Pisces, etc. Recorded in the second century by Ptolemy.

The constellation Keith contains the spiral galaxy Messier 77 and several notable stars: Beta Ceti, Menkar, Tau Ceti and the famous variable star of the World.

Constellation Cetus

An object Designation Meaning of the name Object type Magnitude
1 M77 No Spiral galaxy 8.90
2 Difda (Beta Kita) “Frog” Orange giant 2.02
3 Menkar (Alpha Kita) “Nose” Red giant 2.53
4 This whale “Southern Whale Tail” Orange giant 3.45
5 Gamma whale Short arm Multiple star system 3.47
6 Of the world “Wonderful” Double star 3.50
7 Tau Kita No Yellow dwarf 3.50
eight Shemali (Iota Kita) “Northern Whale Tail” Orange giant 3.56
nine Theta Kita No Orange giant 3.60
ten Zeta Kita “The belly of a whale” Orange giant 3.74
eleven Upsilon Keith No Orange giant 3.99
12 Delta whale No Blue-white subgiant 4.08
13 Mu Kita No Double star 4.27
fourteen Xi-2 Kita No Blue-white giant 4.28
15 Lambda whale No Blue-white giant 4.67

Facts, position and map

With an area of ​​1231 square degrees, the constellation Cetus is the fourth largest constellation. Located in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ1). It can be found at latitudes between + 70 ° and -90 °. Adjacent to Aquarius, Aries, Pisces, Stove, Eridanus, Sculptor and Taurus.

Lat. title Cetus
Reduction Cet
Symbol Whale
Right ascension from 23h 50m until 3h 17m
Declination from -25 ° 30 ‘to + 9 ° 55’
Square 1231 sq. degrees
(4th place)
The brightest stars
(value <3m)
  • Difda (β Cet) – 2,04m
  • Menkar (α Cet) – 2.54m
  • World (ο Cet) – 2.0-10.1m
Meteor showers
  • October Citides
  • Eta-Citida
  • Omicron-Citides
Nearby constellations
  • Taurus
  • Eridanus
  • Aries
  • Fishes
  • Aquarius
  • Bake
  • Sculptor
The constellation is visible in latitudes from + 65 ° to -80 °.
The best time to watch is October.

The whale contains 14 stars with planets and Messier 77 (M77, NGC 1068). The brightest star is Beta Ceti. It also has three meteor showers: October Cetida, Eta Cetida and Omicron Cetida. It is part of the Perseus group along with Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Lizard, Pegasus, Perseus, Triangle, Cepheus and Charioteer. Consider the diagram of the constellation Cetus on the star map.

Constellation Cetus


The whale is a sea monster. Because of the boasting of the Cassiopeia, the nerids were offended. They asked Poseidon for revenge and he sent the monster Cetus to the kingdom of Cepheus (her husband). The oracle advised to sacrifice his daughter and Andromeda was chained to a rock.

Andromeda was waiting for death, but Perseus passed by, who saved her just at the moment when Cetus was about to dine. The hero killed the monster and married Andromeda. Usually the constellation was depicted as a hybrid. He had front limbs, a huge mouth and a body covered with scales, like a prehistoric snake. Although the constellation was named a whale, there is no similarity in appearance.

Main stars

Explore descriptions, characteristics and interesting facts about the brightest stars in the constellation Cetus.

Deneb Kaitos (Difda, Beta Ceti) is an orange giant, spectral type K0 III. He is now in the process of transforming into a red giant. At a surface temperature of 4800 K, the star is slightly colder than the Sun. It is the brightest in the constellation. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 2.04 and is approximately 96.3 light years distant.

She has traditional names. Deneb Kaitos comes from the Arabic phrase Al-Dhanab al-Shayon al-Janubi – “the southern tail of a whale”, and Difda from aḍ-ḍafda’aṯ-āānī – “the second frog” (the star formation in Southern Fish is called the first).

Menkar (Alpha Kita) is an incredibly ancient red giant, 249 light-years distant. It is now pushing out its outer layers and forming a planetary nebula, leaving behind a large white dwarf. Apparent visual magnitude 2.54. Menkar from Arabic means “nostrils”. Very often the star is used in science fiction. For example, in the Star Trek film series.

Mira (Omicron Kita) is a double star, represented by a red giant and a companion. The system is 420 light years distant.

Mira A is a red giant, spectral type M7 IIIe. This is an oscillating variable star, which serves as a prototype for variables of the World type. This group includes 6,000-7,000 known stars. These are red giants, whose surface fluctuations cause changes in brightness with a frequency of 80-1000 days.

Mira is the first non-supernova found with the possible exception of Algol in the constellation Perseus, which was confirmed as a variable only in 1667. Mira may be 6 billion years old.

Mira B is a high temperature white dwarf sucking mass from a red giant. They form a symbiotic pair closest to the Sun.

Mira is the brightest periodic variable star that cannot be seen without special equipment at certain stages of its cycle. The rotation period takes 332 days.

The presence of variability was first described by the German astronomer David Fabricius in 1596. He considered her new until he saw her again in 1609. But officially this merit is attributed to astronomer Johannes Holverd, who determines the variational cycle of the star.

The name was given to the Polish astronomer Jan Hevelius, which is translated from Latin as “wonderful”. The star develops a trail of material. NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer space telescope has captured a 13-light-year tail.

Tau Ceti is a cold G-type dwarf (G8.5) with an apparent magnitude of 3.5. It is one of the closest stars to our system, 11.9 light years distant. Its mass reaches 78% of the solar mass. Thus, it becomes one of the few stars that are less massive than our star, but still visible to the naked eye. She has a low level of metallicity. In terms of luminosity, it reaches only 55% of the solar one.

Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani were two neighboring stars similar to the Sun. In 1960, they were selected as test subjects for the SETI experiment to search for extraterrestrial life. Of course, they did not get any positive results.

Celestial objects

Messier 77 (M77, NGC 1068) is a barred spiral galaxy. It is 47 million light years distant and 170,000 light years in diameter. Visible visual value – 9.6. It is one of the largest galaxies in the Messier catalog.

Messier 77

Messier 77

Found in 1780 by French astronomer Pierre Meschen. It was cataloged by Charles Messier. Meschen originally viewed the object as a nebula, while Messier and William Herschel described it as a star cluster. It can be found 0.7 degrees east-southeast of Delta Ceti (magnitude 4).

Contains an active galactic core hidden by intergalactic dust. It is the strongest radio source first discovered by Bernard Yarnton Mills. He designated the object as Keith A.

NGC 1055 is a spiral galaxy (facing towards us), 52 million light years away. Found by William Herschel in 1783. It is located just 0.5 degrees northeast of Messier 77.

Together with Messier 77, NGC 1055 is the largest member of the galactic group, which also includes NGC 1073 and several smaller irregular galaxies. It is 115,800 light years in diameter. The galaxy is a well-known radio source.

NGC 1087 is an intermediate spiral galaxy 80 million light years away. It is represented by a small central stripe, a tiny core, and a series of irregular elements on the surrounding disk of material. Located close to NGC 1090 (a barred spiral galaxy), but they do not interact.

NGC 1073 is a galaxy in Keith. It is believed to have an H II nucleus. Apparent magnitude 11.5

NGC 1073

NGC 1073

NGC 45 is a barred spiral galaxy 32.6 million light years distant. Apparent magnitude – 10.4. It was discovered by John Herschel in 1835.

NGC 17 is a spiral galaxy 250 million light years away. Apparent magnitude 15.3.

NGC 17

NGC 17

Formed after the merger of two disk galaxies. This is confirmed by recent star formation activity in the main regions of the region and gas saturation.

NGC 47 (NGC 58) is a barred spiral galaxy about 236 million light years distant. Apparent magnitude 13.5. It was discovered in 1886 by the German astronomer Ernst Tempel. It has a second designation NGC 58, inherited from Lewis Swift, who did not know that the object had already been discovered. Visible as a small spiral nebula with a bright core.

NGC 1042 is a spiral galaxy with an apparent magnitude of 14.0.

Neighboring the galaxy NGC 1035. It is believed that they are connected to each other physically, because they display the same redshift.

NGC 247 (Caldwell 62) is an intermediate spiral galaxy located 11.1 million light years away.

NGC 247 (Caldwell 62)

NGC 247 (Caldwell 62)

Gravitationally linked to NGC 253 in the constellation Sculptor, located in the center of the Sculptor Group (one of the closest groups to the Milky Way).

You have the opportunity to study the constellation Cetus more closely if you use not only our photos, but 3D models and an online telescope. For an independent search, a map of the starry sky is suitable.

Constellations of the winter sky

December Aries Whale Eridanus Oven Clock Southern Hydra Perseus Triangle
January Chisel Dora Fish Table Mountain Orion Mesh Taurus
February Charioteer Giraffe Big Dog Dove Gemini Hare Unicorn Painter


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