Constellation Report: Draco
Archive file# o102599b
donated by L. Savage
Constellation Report: Draco
by Chris Lancaster
This group of stars has represented a dragon to almost every ancient civilization that looked toward the heavens. The earliest
is probably the Sumerians who saw Draco as the dragon called Tiamat, formerly a Babylonian goddess who turned herself
into a dragon to give herself a fighting advantage when other gods began challenging her. The Greeks also employed the
dragon in their stories of the conflicts between the Titans and the gods of Olympus as well as in the tales involving Cadmus,
the founder of the city of Thebes; the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece; and the dragon that protected the fruits of one of
the twelve labors of Heracles.
To find Draco, look toward the celestial pole. Its back forms an arch over Ursa Minor, and the head of the dragon looks
toward Vega, the bright star in the constellation Lyra. If you look near the middle of the dragon's tail you'll see Thuban, or
Alpha Draconis, a magnitude 3.7 star which marked the celestial pole almost 5,000 years ago.
Draco has some excellent double stars to choose from, one of which, Nu Draconis, can be split through steadily held
binoculars. Otherwise, use low power with a telescopic view to see these two white stars, both of magnitude 5 and spectral
type A5, which have a large separation of 62". Psi Draconis is another easy double star to split, having a separation of 30".
These two stars also have a similar spectral type with respect to the other (F5 and F8), so they also appear identically white,
but one, at magnitude 5, outshines the other by one magnitude. Probably the most visually pleasing double star is Omicron
Draconis. This is also an easy pair to split (34") and to see (magnitudes 4.5 and 7.5), but what makes this duo stand out is its
gold and pale blue color contrast.
The remaining targets in Draco are more elusive. Starting with the planetary nebula designated NGC6543 and nicknamed the
Cat's Eye nebula, its small size, not its dimness, is what makes this object hard to distinguish from the surrounding stars. It
measures no more than 20" in diameter at its outer visible edges, and its brightest central regions probably occupy and area of
only about 15". It glows at magnitude 8.6, so its high surface brightness makes it stand out at high magnifications. Even so, I
had to spend a few seconds adjusting the focus at 240x magnification to make sure that it didn't sharpen beyond what I saw as
a lumpy, egg-shaped fuzziness. Its coordinates are RA 17h 58.5', Dec +66d 38'.
Several galaxies inhabit Draco. Unfortunately, most are too dim to see much detail after spending quite a bit of effort to find
them. There are three 11th magnitude galaxies, however, that are fairly easy to locate and are worth visiting. Starting with
NGC5866 (RA 15h 6.5m, Dec +55d 46' and sometimes known as M102), this shows a broad oval with flattened extensions
of its disk on each side. About 1.5 degrees to the northeast is the fantastic edge-on galaxy NGC5907 (RA 15h 15.8m Dec
+56d 19.5'), shining at magnitude 11.0 and, with measurements of 11.5' x 1.7', looking like the blade of a sword floating
among the stars.
Finally, there is galaxy NGC6503. If the other galaxies were difficult to spot, this one should be easier since its magnitude
10.5 light is concentrated into a smaller oval. You can find it near the base of the dragon's neck at RA 17h 49.5m Dec +70d
08.7m, or a third of the distance between Chi and Zeta Draconis.
To HiddenMysteries Internet Book Store
Search this Reptilian Agenda Website
HiddenMysteries and/or the donor of this material may or may not agree with all the data or conclusions of this data.
It is presented here 'as is' for your benefit and research. Material for these pages are sent from around the world.
Reptilian Agenda Website is a publication of TGS Services
Please direct all correspondence to
TGS HiddenMysteries, c/o TGS Services,
22241 Pinedale Lane, Frankston, Texas, 75763
All Content © HiddenMysteries - TGS (1998-2005)
HiddenMysteries.com Internet Store ~ HiddenMysteries Information Central
Texas National Press ~ TGS Publishers Dealers Site
All Rights Reserved
Please send bug reports to email@example.com
FAIR USE NOTICE. This site may at times contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
United States Code: Title 17, Section 107 http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/unframed/17/107.shtml
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include - (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.