This week, go in search of the constellation Cassiopeia. For observers of the northern hemisphere, it is going to be high in the sky throughout the coming winter months. Indeed, for much of the northern hemisphere, it is a circumpolar constellation visible all year round.
For most observers of the southern hemisphere, the constellation is never visible. Only those in the southern tropics have a chance to see the star pattern. It will appear low in the northern sky during this month.
The graphic shows the view towards the zenith from London. Cassiopeia is easily recognized as a W-shaped pattern of five stars.
In Greek mythology, she was the mother of Andromeda and boasted that their family beauty was greater than even the exquisite sea nymphs. Such pride aroused the wrath of Poseidon, who was married to the elder nymph Amphitrite.
Poseidon’s ultimate punishment was to place Cassiopeia in the stars, chained to her throne for all eternity. Therefore, the W shape represents the queen in a seated position.
Cassiopeia is one of the 48 original constellations listed in the 2nd century by Ptolemy. The neighbors of the constellation also come from the same myth: Andromeda, Pegasus, Perseus, Cetus and Cepheus.