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Draco: Dragon Constellation

By ML Konett


Draco the dragon, is only present in the Northern

Hemisphere, so those living in the Southern
Hemisphere will never see this long constellation.
The easiest way to spot Draco is by finding his head.
It consists of four stars in a trapezoid, burning
brightly just north of Hercules. From there, the tail
slithers through the sky, eventually ending between
the Big and Little Dippers. It can be difficult to trace
Draco in the night sky. From the head, follow the body
north towards Cepheus. It suddenly shifts south and
west, ending up between the two dippers. The end of
the constellation is held by Thuban, which was the
pole star over 4,000 years ago.

Draco the

Story behind Myth

The name Draco has been linked to several dragons in Greek

mythology. One version is that Cadmus, the brother of Europa who
was brought to Crete by Zeus in the form of a bull, slayed the
dragon Draco in his quest to find his sister. In another account, the
Athenian goddess Minerva took Draco by the tail and put it into the
sky during the battle for Mount Olympus. Draco has also been
identified in early Christianity as the serpent that tempted Eve in the
Garden of Eden.

More stories about Draco

Draco the dragon is famous throughout mythology. This great beast

was especially present in greek myth. One of the more popular
stories involves Heracles and the twelve labors. Gaia gave Hera a
golden apple tree when she married Zeus. Hera put the tree in the
garden to be guarded by the Hesperides and a dragon called

Heracles asks Atlas to gather the apples while he and Athena held
up the sky. Atlas, thinking he could trick Heracles into holding the
sky forever, gladly accepted the mission. When he returned with the
apples, Heracles slipped the sky back on Atlas' shoulders.

Yet another story is set during the Titan war with Zeus. Athena was
attacked by a dragon. She flung it into the air, wrapping it around
the pole. To this day, the dragon remains in the night sky.


Draco Constellation: Facts About the Dragon

Despite its size and designation as the

eighth-largest constellation, Draco, the
"dragon" constellation, is not especially
prominent. The name is derived from the
Latin term draconem, meaning "huge
serpent," and the constellation literally
snakes its way through the northern sky.

Locating Draco

Draco is circumpolar, meaning that it never

sets below the horizon and is always visible
in the Northern Hemisphere, but cannot be
seen in the Southern Hemisphere.
Right ascension: 17 hours
Declination: 65 degrees
Visible between latitudes 90 and minus 15
Best seen in July at 9 p.m. local time

Stars in Draco:

Draco's stars are not very bright, but five of

them have known planets. The head of the
dragon consists of four stars (Beta, Gamma, Nu
and Xi Draconis) in a trapezoid and located just
north of Hercules. From there, the dragon's
body winds its way through the sky, ending
between the Big Dipper and Little Dipper. From
early to mid-October, shooting stars known as
the Draconids appear to radiate from Draco's

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