The Constellation Hercules

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

Hercules is a large northern constellation, culminating at midnight in May. It has the fifth largest area of all the constellations.

Despite this, it covers a rather dark area of the sky and has only two stars brighter than third magnitude. It is best known for its deep sky offerings, which include M13, often known as the ‘Great Globular Cluster in Hercules’. M13 is the brightest globular cluster to lie at a high northern declination.

It is also home to another bright globular cluster, M92, as well as the much fainter cluster NGC 6229.

The name ‘Hercules’ is Latinised name for the Greek hero Heracles. The constellation is probably much older than any association with Hercules: in the third century BC, Aratus referred to the constellation as depicting a nameless man, but a century later, Eratosthenes identified him as Heracles.

The figure is usually drawn with his foot on the head of the dragon Draco, which is appropriate as one of the labors of Hercules was to slay the dragon which guarded the golden apples which grew in the garden of Hera.

Date First Appeared
Sky Area
3.0% of the sky
1225.1 square degrees
Messier Objects
Hercules contains the following Messier objects: M13, M92.
Caldwell Objects
Hercules contains no Caldwell objects
The following constellations neighbor Hercules: Aquila, Bootes, Corona Borealis, Draco, Lyra, Ophiuchus, Sagitta, Serpens Caput, Vulpecula.
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Brightest Objects in Hercules

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Kornephoros (mag 2.8) IC 1277 (mag 0.0) Messier 13 (mag 5.8) NGC 6054 (mag 0.0)
ζ-Her (mag 2.9) IC 1272 (mag 0.0) Messier 92 (mag 6.5) NGC 6074 (mag 0.0)
Sarin (mag 3.1) IC 1285 (mag 0.0) NGC 6229 (mag 9.9) NGC 6150 (mag 0.0)
π-Her (mag 3.1) IC 1273 (mag 0.0) NGC 6163 (mag 0.0)
Rasalgethi (mag 3.3) IC 4648 (mag 0.0) NGC 6180 (mag 0.0)
μ-Her (mag 3.4) NGC 6197 (mag 0.0)
η-Her (mag 3.5) NGC 6228 (mag 0.0)
ξ-Her (mag 3.7) NGC 6261 (mag 0.0)
γ-Her (mag 3.7) NGC 6272 (mag 0.0)
ι-Her (mag 3.8) NGC 6301 (mag 0.0)
O-Her (mag 3.8) NGC 6321 (mag 0.0)
θ-Her (mag 3.8) NGC 6343 (mag 0.0)
109-Her (mag 3.9) NGC 6364 (mag 0.0)
τ-Her (mag 3.9) NGC 6417 (mag 0.0)
ε-Her (mag 3.9) NGC 6452 (mag 0.0)
σ-Her (mag 4.2) NGC 6486 (mag 0.0)
110-Her (mag 4.2) NGC 6518 (mag 0.0)
φ-Her (mag 4.2) NGC 6560 (mag 0.0)
102-Her (mag 4.3) NGC 6585 (mag 0.0)
111-Her (mag 4.3) NGC 6619 (mag 0.0)
Maasym (mag 4.4) IC 1162 (mag 0.0)
ν-Her (mag 4.4) IC 1181 (mag 0.0)
HD (mag 4.5) IC 1191 (mag 0.0)
ρ-Her (mag 4.5) IC 1219 (mag 0.0)
ω-Her (mag 4.6) IC 1245 (mag 0.0)




Color scheme