Hydra - Downloadable article
Glittering star clusters and striking galaxies vie for your attention within the boundaries of the Water Snake.
March 3, 2009
|This downloadable article is from an Astronomy magazine 45-article series called "Celestial Portraits." The collection highlights all 88 constellations in the sky and explains how to observe each constellation's deep-sky targets. The articles feature star charts, stunning pictures, and constellation mythology. We've put together 11 digital packages. Each one contains four Celestial Portraits articles for you to purchase and download.|
"Hydra" is one of four articles included in Celestial Portraits Package 7.
As Orion and Puppis depart with their Milky Way treasures on spring evenings, the temptation is to settle into galaxy observing in Leo and Virgo. Yet the largest constellation in the sky — Hydra the Water Snake — lies sandwiched between these regions. Hydra's sheer size results in a constellation that hosts a diverse mix of interesting telescopic objects.
You can follow the form of Hydra's western half as it runs parallel to the Milky Way east of Canis Major. At the northern end, Hydra's head consists of five 3rd- and 4th-magnitude stars. To the southeast you'll easily spot Alphard (Alpha [α] Hydrae), the constellation's brightest star at magnitude 2.0. The yellow-orange star lies 177 light-years from Earth and shines with the light of 400 suns. From Alphard, Hydra traces a zigzag pattern before turning east to a more ill-defined line of stars south of Corvus and Virgo. To read the complete article, purchase and download Celestial Portraits Package 7.
|Deep-sky objects in Hydra|
M48 (NGC 2548), NGC 2610, Epsilon (ε) Hydrae, NGC 2708, NGC 2784, Abell 33, NGC 3109, NGC 3242, NGC 3311, V Hydrae, NGC 3585, NGC 3621, NGC 3923, NGC 4105, M68 (NGC 4590), R Hydrae, M83 (NGC 5236), NGC 5694