Star Light, Star Bright. Fourth Star I See Tonight

For the fourth celestial object in our series, I am sticking to the northern skies and another of the more the recognizable constellations, Cassiopeia. This time of year, I can see her just to the west of Polaris.

Cassiopeia is named after the vain Ethiopian wife of King Cepheus. She was the mother of Andromeda, and after her vain boasting angered the Nereids nymphs (lots of nymphs in these stories), they forced Cassiopeia and Cepheus to sacrifice Andromeda to the sea monster Cetus. Andromeda was saved by Perseus, but later at their wedding the king and queen along with a lot of wedding guests were turned to stone when Perseus was forced to use the head of Medusa to win a fight over the right to Andromeda’s hand in marriage. And you thought your wedding had drama.

The sea god Poseidon placed Cassiopeia in the northern sky, circling Polaris and doomed to spend half the year upside down as punishment for her vanity. Cepheus, Andromeda, and Perseus are each their own constellation, arrayed around her in the northern and north western skies. Cetus floats in the southern skies.

The Milky Way runs right through the middle of Cassiopeia, making it one of the more amazing stretches of the heavens to stare at. More than 20 star clusters are in the direct vicinity.