logo (79K)

logo searchbox (1K)

titlebarconstellations (2K)

ANDROMEDA   AQUARIUS   AQUILA   ARIES   AURIGA   BOOTES   CAMELOPARDALIS   CANCER   CANES VENATICI   CANIS MAJOR   CANIS MINOR   CAPRICORNUS   CARINA   CASSIOPEIA   CENTAURUS   CEPHEUS   CETUS   COLUMBA   COMA BERENICES   CORONA AUSTRALIS   CORONA BOREALIS   CORVUS   CRATER   CRUX   CYGNUS   DELPHINUS   DORADO   DRACO   EQUULEUS   ERIDANUS   FORNAX   GEMINI   HERCULES   HYDRA   LACERTA   LEO   LEO MINOR   LEPUS   LIBRA   LUPUS   LYNX   LYRA   MONOCEROS   OPHIUCHUS   ORION   PEGASUS   PERSEUS   PISCES   PISCIS AUSTRALIS   PUPPIS   SAGITTA   SAGITTARIUS   SCORPIUS   SCULPTOR   SCUTUM   SERPENS   SEXTANS   TAURUS   TRIANGULUM   TUCANA   URSA MAJOR   URSA MINOR   VELA   VIRGO   VULPECULA  

PISCES

The Fish

pisces jamieson1822 (318K)
Pisces - Alexander Jamieson - 1822

It is said that when the goddess Aphrodite (Venus), and her son Eros (Cupid) were attacked by the monster, Typhon, they transformed themselves into fish, joined by a cord tied to their tails so they wouldn't become separated, and escaped into the river Euphrates, their daring adventure recorded forever in the stars.

As ancient as it is, Pisces is a faint constellation. The easiest way to find it is to look for the unmistakable Great Square Of Pegasus. The circlet of Pisces will be very nearby, and from there you should be able to trace the outline of the two fish and the cord that joins them.

pisces (42K)






Stars and Planets

Al Rischa

The alpha star in the constellation is only third brightest, and perhaps allotted the prime designation because of its vital role in keeping the goddess and her son from becoming separated in the waters of the Euphrates. It is named Al Rischa, Arabic for the cord, and is a binary system, consisting of an A0 white main sequence star, and an almost identical A3 white main sequence star that orbit each other every 720 years. The combined magnitude of the two stars is 3.82, and they are 139 light years away.

Fum Al Samakah

The beta star is likewise not amongst the brightest of the constellation, and most likely also named for its import, Fum Al Samakah, Arabic for the mouth of the fish. It is a B8 blue/white main sequence star with a magnitude of 4.53, 495 light years away.

Torcularis Septentrionalis

Continuing the trend of naming the dimmer stars instead of the brighter ones, at magnitude 4.26, Omicron Piscium is named Torcularis Septentrionalis, which is Latin for the northern press. It has been suggested that it is a reference to a grape, or olive press, but the true origins of the name are no longer known. It is a G8 yellow giant, 250 light years away.

Kullat Nunu

Eta Piscium is not usually named on star charts, but R.H. Allen dug up the name Kullat Nunu which dates back to Babylonian times. Interpreted as the cord of the fish, the name would certainly attest to the constellation's antiquity. Since it is the constellation's brightest star at magnitude 3.62 it certainly deserves a name, and Kullat Nunu has a nice ring to it. It is a G7 yellow/orange giant, about 350 light years away, with a small, dim companion about which little is known.

Exoplanets

Fourteen planetary systems have been discovered so far in Pisces. The stars are all beyond visual magnitude and the planets are all gas giants.For more information visit NASA's Planet Quest.

Zodiac

Pisces is one of the thirteen constellations that occupy the ecliptic, the path the Sun, Moon and planets travel across the sky. Twelve of these constellations make up the Zodiac, of which astrologers place so much import. Pisces also has the distinction of containing the point of vernal equinox. Known to the ancients as the first point in Aries, it is the point in the sky where the Sun crosses the celestial equator at the moment of the vernal equinox. Due to the slight wobble of Earth's axis called precession, this point has moved from Aries into Pisces over the last 2,000 years.





Deep Sky Objects

M74

M74 (NGC628) is a spiral galaxy about 32 million light years away, thought to contain about 100 billion stars. A magnitude of 10.0 stretches the limits of a small telescope, but the large mirrors of the Hubble Space Telescope show it in remarkable detail.

m74-hubble (158K)
M74 (NGC 628) - Spiral Galaxy - Hubble Space Telescope - November, 2007

NGC 524

The galaxy NGC 524 is about 90 million miles away. It is known as a Lenticular Galaxy, thought to be the aging remnant of a spiral galaxy that has lost much of its gas and dust primarily to new star formation, causing its spiral structure to dissipate. A magnitude of 11.3 puts it out of reach of most small telescopes.

ngc524-hubble-cr (91K)
NGC 524 - Lenticular Galaxy - Hubble Space Telescope - July, 2013

NGC 520

At a distance of about 100 million light years, two galaxies are about half way through the multi-million year process of merging into one, and forming a new galaxy named NGC 520 (Arp 157). A magnitude of 11.4 puts it in the realm of large telescopes only.

ngc520-eso-sm (70K)
NGC 520 (Arp 157)- Merging Galaxies - European Southern Observatory, Chile - November, 2010

NGC 488

The spiral galaxy NGC 488 lies about 90 million light years away. Its magnitude of 10.3 makes it a challenge for a small scope.

ngc488-adamblock-cr (69K)
NGC 488 - Spiral Galaxy - Adam Block






Winter: Orion   Canis Major   Canis Minor   Monoceros   Lepus   Eridanus   Taurus   Auriga   Camelopardalis   Lynx   Gemini   Cancer  
Spring: Hydra   Sextans   Crater   Corvus   Leo   Leo Minor   Ursa Major   Ursa Minor   Canes Venatici   Coma Berenices   Virgo   Bootes  
Summer: Draco   Corona Borealis   Hercules   Ophiuchus   Serpens   Libra   Scorpius   Sagittarius   Scutum   Aquila   Sagitta   Vulpecula   Lyra   Cygnus  
Autumn: Andromeda   Perseus   Pegasus   Cassiopeia   Cepheus   Cetus   Lacerta   Delphinus   Equuleus   Capricornus   Aquarius   Pisces   Aries   Triangulum  
Southern Skies: Centaurus   Crux   Lupus   Corona Australis   Piscis Australis   Sculptor   Tucana   Fornax   Dorado   Columba   Puppis   Carina   Vela  

cometarrowbaquarius (3K) copyright (2K) contact (3K) cometarrowfaries (2K)