The Aries Constellation is not very noticeable. Only the stars on the head are easy to find in the sky. Aries is an autumn constellation. For the ancient pastoral peoples, the ram was a symbol of fertility, clothing and prosperity. All of this was hoped for in the course of the year.
Location, size and visibility
Aries is a small but distinctive constellation that lies between the constellations Triangle, Perseus, Taurus, Whale and Pisces. In the list of 88 constellations, the constellation Aries occupies the 39th place with its area of 441 square degrees. It is one of the classic zodiac constellations: every year the sun moves through the constellation in April and May. In ancient times, the sun passed the celestial equator to the north at the beginning of spring, and at that time the New Year began for many ancient peoples.
Due to the precessional movement of the Earth’s axis, the equinox point has since moved to the western part of the Pisces constellation.
History and mythology
The constellation Aries was already known in Babylon under the name CHUN-GA (Aries), and in Persia, ancient Egypt and the Minoans it was called “Aries” in the local language. The constellation came to Rome via Greece, and the Roman astronomers gave it the Latin name “Aries” (= Aries).
Several mythological stories have come down to us from antiquity about the constellation Aries. One of these legends traces the name of the constellation back to Zeus, who turned into a ram while fleeing from the overpowering titans. The Roman writer Hygenius reports in another story how Bacchus, the god of wine, and his lively entourage unexpectedly got lost in the vastness of the Libyan desert. In this parched wasteland, they were all soon plagued by a terrible thirst. Fortunately, however, they met a friendly ram, and he led them to a cool rock spring and thus saved them from certain death. In thanks for the happy salvation, Bacchus took the ram to heaven.
Another legend about this constellation is about the king’s son Phrixus and his sister Helle. Her father Athamas was King of Bootien, he had cast out her mother Nephele and instead married the more charming young Ino, a daughter of the King of Thebes. Wanting to see her own future children on the throne of Bootien, Ino decided to skillfully get the children of the Nepheles out of the way. For this purpose, she first poisoned the seed grain, so that the following year there was a bad harvest and famine. In this situation Ino advised her husband to consult an oracle in order to show his people that he was able to find a way out of trouble through the oracle’s saying. Ino had already formulated the answer of this oracle: The father must sacrifice his son and heir to the throne Phrixus. According to the oracle, Athamas went with his children to the top of a high mountain, erected an altar there out of field stones and prepared to sacrifice the Phrixus on it. But then, at the behest of mother Nephele, a magnificent ram with a shining golden skin appeared to save the children. The two of them quickly climbed onto the ram’s back, and the ram swung itself up into the clouds with the children and flew east. When the fearful light saw the strait between Europe and Asia lying far below, the sight made her sick, she lost her grip on the ram’s skin and fell into the sea, where she drowned. The strait has been called “Hellespont” since then. The ram flew on to the land of Colchis with Phrixus on his back, where the boy was hospitable and the ram was sacrificed to the gods. In gratitude for his sacrifice, Zeus moved the ram to heaven. The golden fur of the ram was exhibited in the sacred grove of the god of war Ares, and Phrixus married Chalkiope, the daughter of the king of Colchis. Years later, Jason stole the fur, widely known as the “Golden Fleece”, and brought it back to Greece.
The brightest star in the constellation Aries is 2.0m bright Hamal. Hamal (Alpha Arietis) is a red giant with 70 solar luminosities, 75 light-years away from us. The name “Hamal” became the template for the German word “Mutton”, which is synonymous with “Widder”. About 4 ° southeast of Hamal is Sheratan (Beta Arietis), it is 2.65 m bright and 52 light-years away from us.
Special stars (double stars, changeable)
About 1.5 ° south of Sheratan is the 3.6 m bright Mesarthim (Gamma Arietis). Mesarthim is a beautiful double star that can be impressively resolved even in the small telescope, the two partners are equally bright. Mesarthim is 160 light-years away. The 5m bright star Pi Arietis is also a double star, it lies 9.7 ° south of Hamal. Its two blue and white partner stars are 5.5m and 8m bright and are at a distance of 3 arc seconds from each other. Pi Arietis is 600 light-years away from us.
Worth seeing deep sky objects
In the constellation Aries, there are neither open star clusters nor planetary nebulae or globular star clusters. Here neither dark clouds nor star clusters of the Milky Way obstruct the view into the depths of space. With suitable telescopes, one can observe distant galaxies here. About 1.5 ° east of Mesarthim lies the 10.5 m bright spiral galaxy NGC 772. It was discovered in 1785 by Wilhelm Herschel. NGC 772 measures 7 x 3 arc minutes in the sky and is approximately 115 million light-years away.
Aries is a small constellation with a great astrological meaning. The brighter stars α (Hamal), β (Sheratan) and γ (Mesarthim) form a curve. Every year from April 19 to May 14, the sun passes through the constellation of Aries. The best time to watch the ram is in autumn. The visibility of our constellations is of course often dependent on the season.
Shape and Position: Zodiac sign aries
The Aries can be found south of the rather inconspicuous constellation Triangle and west of the Pisces. The Aries shows itself as a slightly curved chain of stars, an actual Aries can only be recognized with a lot of imagination. Beta Arietis is a binary star system. 53 Arietis, another interesting star of Aries that is barely visible to the naked eye, amazes astronomers with the extraordinarily high speed at which it moves through the cosmos – more than a hundred kilometers per second.
Right ascension: 01h 46m to 03h 29m
Declination: +10 to +31 degrees
Brightest star: Alpha Arietis (Hamal)
Astrological meaning: People born under the zodiac sign Aries are considered passionate and determined. Always with your head against the wall is the motto of the true Aries. His honesty and compassion make an Aries person friendly.
Best season for observation: autumn
Neighboring constellations: triangle , Perseus , Taurus , whale, Piscas