Constellations and Their Myths



Simple diagram of Cassiopeia

I am Cassiopeia, the wife of King Cepheus, and the mother of Andromeda. I am the most beautiful woman on Earth, more beautiful than the Nereids, and even more beautiful than the Gods. Actually, I should not say that anymore. It is the reason why I am stuck in the sky upside down for half of a year.


Cassiopeia 2 lg.gif

People would always accuse me of being vain. I think it's jealousy. One day the Nereids overheard me talking about how I am more beautiful compared to them. They quickly became angry and complained to Poseidon. They had the audacity to beg him to punish me. How rude! He threatened to flood our kingdom and send the large sea monster, Cetus. To save our kingdom, my dear Cepheus and I had to sacrifice our only daughter to the sea monster. We could not bear to see her chained to that rock, waiting for a monster to claim her as the night's dinner. Cetus drew nearer, but a young man named Perseus flew overhead with his flying horse, Pegasus. He had just returned from slaying Medusa and fell in love with Andromeda at first sight. He asked us if he could save Andromeda in exchange for her hand in marriage. Originally, King Cepheus' uncle, Agenor was supposed to marry her, but my husband was so happy to be able to keep our daughter alive that he accepted. I did not really agree, but Perseus flew off with no time for me to object. He rescued our daughter and swiftly cut the monster's head off. Andromeda was so happy with her new suitor. It made me sick. She was supposed to marry Agenor! I went to him and convinced him to interrupt the wedding party and claim his love. Agenor arrived just as planned with a small army. It all happened so fast. There was arguing and fighting...then all of a sudden Perseus dangled the head of Medusa in his hand and turned us all into stone. Hearing of our demise, Poseidon placed us all in the sky. So here I am, spinning around in the sky for all eternity. He said I deserve the position I was given. He told me because of my vanity I have to sit upside down for half of a year. Oh well, at least you all can admire my beauty all year long.

How to Find Cassiopeia

M103 Star Cluster

You can find me all year long because I am a northern circumpolar constellation, meaning I revolve around the north pole star and I do not rise and set like some other constellations. To find me, face north. I am in a "W" or "M" shape, depending on the date you see me. You can find many interesting things near me like the M52 and M103 star clusters. My brightest star, alpha Cas, is called Schedir. The best time to find me is autumn because it is when I am at my highest in the sky. I am a northern constellation, so people who live below 44 degrees South latitude do not know of my beauty.