The Constellation Hercules
Big But Not Very Bright

The constellation Hercules is big in size but... not very luminous. Hercules is the fifth largest constellation but its brightest stars are only of the low second or third magnitude. This makes this constellation hard to spot for the inexperienced stargazer.

Originally known as Heracles to the Greeks, Hercules' name was changed by the Romans.

As the son of the god Zeus and the mortal woman Alcmene, Hercules came under the wrath of Zeus' wife Hera. She attempted to kill the baby Hercules by sending two giant snakes to attack him in his crib.

Already possessed of great strength Hercules was able to strangle the snakes and save his life. Eventually Hercules was sent out to perform his famous twelve labors These tasks were thought to be impossible to accomplish and Hera thought that surely Hercules would be killed.

The twelve labors are as follows:

1.Slay Leo The Nemean Lion

2.Slay the 9-headed Hydra. During this fight Hercules killed Cancer The Crab.

Cancer had been sent by Hera to help in the fight.

3.Capture the golden hind of Artemis.

4.Capture the Erymanthian boar. It was after this labor that Hercules gets involved in the deaths of Chiron and Pholus the centaurs Sagittarius and Centaurus.

5.Clean the Augean stables in one day.

6.Slay the Stymphalian birds Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila

7.Capture the Cretan bull, which some believed to be Taurus...Although in the Taurus constellation the bull appears to be charging Orion The Hunter.

8.Steal the mares of Diomedes.

9.Obtain the girdle of the Amazon queen Hippolyta.

10.Obtain the cattle of the monster Geryon.

11.Steal the golden apples of the Hesperides.

12.Capture Cerberus.

hercules star field
constellation hercules outline

Right Ascension: 17 hours

Declination: 30 degrees

Visible between latitudes +90 and -50 degrees

Best seen in July at 9:00 PM local time

Named Stars: RASALGETHI (Alpha1 Herculis) Kornephoros (Beta Herculis) Sarin (Delta Herculis) Marfik (Kappa Herculis) Maasym (Lambda Herculis) Kajam (Omega Herculis)

Beta Herculis is the brightest star.

The Hercules constellation is depicted upside-down kneeling over the head of Draco. This would put his legs at the top of this picture with his arms extended downward.

It is possible to imagine him with arms raised and the legs down as he kneels. The bends in the picture becoming his knees.

Use your imagination and picture it as you like.

The "keystone" of Hercules is easiest to spot. This is the square that makes the torso or body of Hercules.

Globular cluster M13 is located in this area. M13 known as the Hercules cluster is regarded as the best globular cluster for viewing in the northern hemisphere.

Visible to the naked eye on dark, clear nights. This cluster is very nice to see in binoculars and quite delightful in a telescope.

M92 although not quite as bright is also a nice sight through binoculars or a telescope.

The constellation Hercules is bordered by:

Draco  Bootes  Corona Borealis  Serpens Caput  Ophiuchus  Aquila Sagitta  Vulpecula  Lyra

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