The Constellation Cetus

by Dominic Ford
Cetus Cetus
The constellation Cetus. Roll mouse over to see labels.
Source: Stellarium.

Cetus is the fourth largest constellation, visible in the months around September just to the south of the ecliptic.

Despite its size, Cetus has few bright stars, and because it lies far from the plane of the Milky Way, it also has few deep sky objects. However, it does contain a number of galaxies, including the Messier object M77, a bright spiral galaxy viewed in a face-on orientation.

The star Mira, also known as o-Cet, was the first variable star to be discovered, by David Fabricius in 1596. Its brightness fluctuates between mag 3 and 10 with a 332-day period. Today it is the prototypical example of the Mira class of variable stars.

Cetus is often identified as a whale, or perhaps as the sea monster sent by Poseidon to ravage the kingdom of Cepheus and to which Andromeda was to be sacrificed. The monster was slain by Perseus.

The area of the sky around Cetus is often known as The Sea or the Water, because it contains a number of water-related constellations including Aquarius, Eridanus and Pisces.

Date First Appeared
Sky Area
3.0% of the sky
1231.4 square degrees
Messier Objects
Cetus contains the following Messier object: M77.
Caldwell Objects
Cetus contains the following Caldwell objects: C51, C56, C62.
The following constellations neighbor Cetus: Aquarius, Aries, Eridanus, Fornax, Pisces, Sculptor, Taurus.
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Brightest Objects in Cetus

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
HD (mag 0.0) NGC 285 (mag 0.0)
Diphda (mag 2.0) NGC 829 (mag 0.0)
Menkar (mag 2.5) NGC 1046 (mag 0.0)
η-Cet (mag 3.4) IC 77 (mag 0.0)
τ-Cet (mag 3.5) IC 1562 (mag 0.0)
ι-Cet (mag 3.5) NGC 259 (mag 0.0)
γ-Cet (mag 3.6) NGC 369 (mag 0.0)
θ-Cet (mag 3.6) NGC 667 (mag 0.0)
Baten Kaitos (mag 3.7) NGC 755 (mag 0.0)
υ-Cet (mag 4.0) NGC 905 (mag 0.0)
δ-Cet (mag 4.1) NGC 1051 (mag 0.0)
π-Cet (mag 4.2) NGC 7828 (mag 0.0)
ξ²-Cet (mag 4.3) IC 80 (mag 0.0)
μ-Cet (mag 4.3) IC 173 (mag 0.0)
ξ¹-Cet (mag 4.4) NGC 303 (mag 0.0)
AE Cet (mag 4.5) NGC 558 (mag 0.0)
2-Cet (mag 4.5) NGC 1063 (mag 0.0)
χ-Cet (mag 4.7) IC 146 (mag 0.0)
λ-Cet (mag 4.7) IC 1591 (mag 0.0)
σ-Cet (mag 4.7) IC 1703 (mag 0.0)
20-Cet (mag 4.8) NGC 548 (mag 0.0)
φ¹-Cet (mag 4.8) NGC 734 (mag 0.0)
ε-Cet (mag 4.8) NGC 808 (mag 0.0)
κ-Cet (mag 4.9) IC 49 (mag 0.0)
ρ-Cet (mag 4.9) IC 78 (mag 0.0)




Color scheme