The Draco constellation represents a dragon in Greek myth. One of the “Twelve Labors Of Hercules” was to steal the golden apples of the Hesperides. During this labor, Hercules slew the dragon Ladon. Ladon was rewarded for his attempted heroism with a place amongst the stars.
Unfortunately Hercules is placed with
him, shown kneeling above the slain dragon's head.
Right Ascension: 17 hours
Declination: +65 degrees
Visible between latitudes +90 and -15 degrees
Best seen in July at (at 9:00pm local time)
Named Stars: Thuban(Alpha Draconis) Rastaban(Beta Draconis) Etamin(Gamma Draconis) Altais(Delta Draconis) Aldibain(Eta Draconis)
Thuban was for a time the North star. This was a long time ago, about 3942 BC until 1793 BC. Alpha Draconis will again be the pole star about the year 21,000. Egyptian pyramids were designed to face this star.
Despite being the alpha star, there are seven stars brighter than Thuban in Draco.
The brightest star is Gamma Draconis Etamin. Etamin is an orange giant star with an apparent magnitude of 2.2.
Beta Draconis is a yellow giant with the apparent magnitude of 2.8.
One of the largest, the Draco constellation is eighth in size.
Despite its size though this dragon can be slain easily with binoculars and amateur scopes.
There are plenty of double and binary star systems for you to enjoy.
Eta Draconis is a double star with a combined apparent magnitude of 2.73. Mu Draconis is a binary system with 2 white stars at 5.6 and 5.7 apparent magnitude.
Nu Draconis is also a white pair both at 4.9 apparent magnitude and can be split in binoculars.
Omicron Draconis is a double that can be split in small telescopes. The primary is a orange giant about 4.6 apparent magnitude.
16 and 17 Draconis form part of a triple star system. 16 Draconis is a binary star with components of 5.4 and 6.5 magnitude. 17 Draconis has an apparent magnitude of 5.5. this system can be split in medium sized scopes(6in-8in;150mm-200mm).
The Cat's Eye Nebula(NGC 6543) is the only deep-sky object of note to the backyard stargazer.
With an apparent magnitude of 9.8, this nebula is seen in small telescopes as a fuzzy blue-green patch.
Find it at RA 17 hours 53 minutes and
Declination +66 degrees.
With a Constellation the size of Draco, there are plenty of neighbors. Draco touches 8 other constellations.
The Draconids are a meteor shower in October that radiates from the constellation Draco. An average shower that sometimes can explode into a meteor storm and produce over 1000 meteors an hour. Best viewed from clear, dark skies.
The February Eta Draconids were just
discovered in 2011.