Pegasus is a magnificent constellation occupying more than 1200 square degrees in the sky. Pegasus is a white-colored winged horse in Greek mythology. Closely associated with the Perseus constellation, the Pegasus constellation is quite easy to spot in the night sky due to its symbolic, “the great square”, which is made up of bright stars. We know about the Pegasus Constellation since Ptolemy listed it in his list of 48 constellations. Explore more fascinating facts about the Pegasus constellation with this article.
Key things to know about the Pegasus constellation
- Pegasus is the seventh largest constellation of the 88 known constellations.
- It takes up about 1200 square degrees in the sky.
- It is very easy to spot because of its symbolic “the great square”
- Pegasus was the white winged horse in the Greek mythology born from the severed head of Medusa. Perseus used Pegasus to save Andromeda from Cetus.
- Pegasus belongs to the Perseus constellation family along with Andromeda, Cetus, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Triangulum, and Auriga.
Stars in the Pegasus Constellation
Enif (ε Pegasi)
Enif is the brightest star in the constellation and the 84th brightest in the sky. The word Enif is derived from the Egyptian word for nose and is located on the muzzle of Pegasus. Enif is an orange supergiant. It is 175 times larger than the Sun. Its luminosity varies. It has been known for high brightness for certain durations.
Scheat (β Pegasi)
Scheat is the second brightest star in the Pegasus constellation. Scheat is a red giant and is about 200 times bigger than the sun. The word Scheat is derived from an Arabic word which means, “the upper arm”.
Markab (α Pegasi)
It is the third brightest star in the Pegasus constellation. The word Markab is derived from an Arabic word, which means “the saddle of the horse”. Markab is a white star and is among the four stars forming the feature square of the Pegasus constellation. It is about 200 times brighter than the sun.
Algenib (γ Pegasi)
Algenib is the fourth brightest star in the Pegasus constellation. It is nine times the mass of the son. It is located in the south-east corner of the square.
Homam (Zeta Pegasi)
Homam is among the bright stars of the constellation that are visible to the unaided eye. The meaning of the word “Homam” is, “the man of high spirit”.
51 Pegasi is a star in the Pegasus constellation that is quite similar to the sun and is known for its planet 51 Pegasi b, which is a “Hot Jupiter” with extremely small orbit.
Pegasus in Greek Mythology
Pegasus was a winged horse that was born of Medusa’s neck when Perseus beheaded her. Medusa was a monster who was once a beautiful woman but was cursed by Goddess Athena. The curse turned Medusa into an ugly woman with the body of a snake. One look into the eye of Medusa could turn any living man into stone.
Athena gave Pegasus to Perseus so that he could free Andromeda.
Another story associated with Pegasus is of Prince Bellerophon (51 Pegasi), who was fascinated by the winged horse, Pegasus. On the advice of a fortune-teller, Bellerophon approached Pegasus at its favorite grazing place and was able to tame it.
Bellerophon became very proud on seemingly able to fly like the gods. Bellerophon force him to climb to Olympus, Pegasus did not want to get close to the gods because Zeus could punish him because of Bellerophon, so he let him fall, and thereafter, Bellerophon wandered aimlessly through the world, unable to talk to anyone, rejected by the gods.
Since then, Pegasus stayed in the stables of Olympus.
It was also said that he was the father of the Centaurs, who were born of a slave, with whom Pegasus and Ixion were related the same night.
Then it became the constellation that bears his name with the four bright stars that make up the Pegasus Square.
Where to find Pegasus
It is visible from July to January in the northern hemisphere and during February, March, and April in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere, Pegasus is best visible during October month.
- Find the big dipper and the pole star. Both of these are the easiest to find.
- The pole star or the Polaris is located between the big dipper and the Cassiopeia constellation. Cassiopeia looks like a W.
- Once you have spotted the Cassiopeia constellation, look towards its right for either Andromeda constellation or the Pegasus constellation.
- The Andromeda and Pegasus constellation have one star in common.
- Look for the “square” to spot the Pegasus constellation. Once you have spotted the square, you’ll be able to find identify the constellation along with its stars.
Important space objects near and in the Pegasus constellation
Einstein’s cross is located near the Pegasus and the Aquarius constellations.
M15 (Messier 15) star cluster in the Pegasus constellation is composed of more than 100, 000 stars.
Some other important constellations – Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Aquarius are located near the Pegasus constellation.