| Cetus is the fourth largest constellation
in the sky. He represents the sea monster Typhon in Greek mythology
and can be found paddling along the shores of Eridanus the River.
Typhon was prone to rampaging across the country side and appears in several
tales, one of them is described under Capricornus.
Eventually Typhon was imprisoned under Mount Etna.
In the sky Cetus is linked to the
constellations of Andromeda, Perseus, Cassiopea and Cepheus.
After Perseus had slain Medusa and was carrying her head home, he flew
over Andromeda, daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopea, chained to a rock by
the sea as an offering to Cetus. Cetus appeared just as Perseus swooped
down to take a closer look. Since Cetus was so large Perseus showed
the head of Medusa to Cetus, so turning the monster to stone, then rescued
Andromeda from her chains.
An excerpt from Johan van
Keulen's Boeck zee-kaardt, 1709.
The head of the Whale lies
near Aries and Taurus,
while it's body splashes
in Eridanus the River.
The brightest star, alpha (a)
Ceti, is also known as Menkar, meaning Nose. At the far end of the
constellation lies beta (b)
Ceti, known both as Deneb Kaitos, the Tail of the Whale, and Difda.
Difda derives from the Arabic name for this star, the Second Frog (the
First Frog being nearby Fomalhaut, which means Mouth of the Fish).
Ceti is also worth mentioning as it is a close star, only 11.7 light years
away and almost identical to our own. For this reason it has often
been the target of both study and literary speculation in the hope that
signs of life may be found there.
Mira, the Wonderful, designated as omicron
Ceti, was the first recognised variable star. On average it swings
from magnitude 2 to 9 every 331 days. Maxima and minima may vary
considerably in both time and magnitude. It has been known to reach
magnitude 1.7 and sometimes only magnitude 5. It was first
discovered by Dutchman David Fabricius, a pupil of Tycho Brahe on 13th
This article is ©2002
Stargazers Astronomy Shop