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 15.0) Messier 13 (mag 5.8) NGC 6482 (mag 11.4)
ζ-Her (mag 2.9) IC 1272 Messier 92 (mag 6.5) NGC 6207 (mag 11.7)
Sarin (mag 3.1) IC 1273 NGC 6229 (mag 9.9) NGC 6166 (mag 11.8)
π-Her (mag 3.1) IC 1285 NGC 6181 (mag 11.9)
Rasalgethi (mag 3.3) IC 4648 NGC 6661 (mag 11.9)
μ-Her (mag 3.4) NGC 6574 (mag 12.0)
η-Her (mag 3.5) NGC 6587 (mag 12.1)
ξ-Her (mag 3.7) NGC 6674 (mag 12.1)
γ-Her (mag 3.7) NGC 6106 (mag 12.2)
ι-Her (mag 3.8) NGC 6162 (mag 12.2)
O-Her (mag 3.8) NGC 6501 (mag 12.3)
θ-Her (mag 3.8) NGC 6389 (mag 12.4)
109-Her (mag 3.9) NGC 6239 (mag 12.4)
τ-Her (mag 3.9) NGC 6500 (mag 12.5)
ε-Her (mag 3.9) NGC 6555 (mag 12.7)
σ-Her (mag 4.2) IC 4615 (mag 12.8)
110-Her (mag 4.2) NGC 6599 (mag 12.8)
φ-Her (mag 4.2) NGC 6658 (mag 12.9)
102-Her (mag 4.3) NGC 6550 (mag 13.1)
111-Her (mag 4.3) NGC 6028 (mag 13.2)
Maasym (mag 4.4) NGC 6155 (mag 13.2)
ν-Her (mag 4.4) NGC 6627 (mag 13.2)
HD (mag 4.5) NGC 6632 (mag 13.2)
ρ-Her (mag 4.5) IC 1269 (mag 13.2)
ω-Her (mag 4.6) NGC 6315 (mag 13.3)



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