Equuleus, The Second Smallest Constellation
When you look up at the sky, at night, you might see billions of stars. Of them, you might see some of them forming definite shapes.
These are the constellations (though they are not real). There is a total of 88 constellations officially. So, what is a constellation?
A constellation is a group of stars that form outlines or patterns imaginarily in the space. They mostly represent mythological people or gods, animals, mythical creatures, devices, etc. The most famous ones are Big Dipper, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Orion, Cassiopeia. The smallest constellation is Crux (the Southern Cross) and the second smallest is Equuleus. The largest is Hydra.
Facts About the Constellation
As mentioned above, Equuleus is the second smallest constellation of all the 88 known constellations. It has the shape of a small horse. In Latin, it means ‘Little Horse’ or Foal. It is not very bright; rather the stars are faint. The abbreviation for this constellation is ‘Equ.’ The total number of main stars are just three, and it covers merely 72 square degrees. It is in the northern hemisphere, in the fourth quadrant. This constellation can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -80°. The bordering constellation is Pegasus, Delphinus, and Aquarius. The brightest star of this constellation is Alpha Equulei. The traditional name of this star is Kitalpha, meaning ‘the section of the horse.’ The distance between Earth and this star is 186 light years.
The constellation’s creator is unknown, but this constellation was introduced in the second century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. He had listed it as one of the 48 constellations. This constellation is best visible during September, at 21:00. The stars of Equuleus do not have any meteor showers neither does it have any Messier objects. This constellation is related to the ‘Heavenly Waters’ family.
The Myth of Equuleus
This constellation, which also means foal, is related to the Greek mythology. It is related to Chiron the centaur and the nymph Chariclo’s daughter, Hippe. Hippe was pregnant with Aeolus’s child as he had seduced her. Hippe was ashamed of this and hid this fact from her father, Chiron. Later, she escaped and stayed in the mountains. There she gave birth to her child, which she named Melanippe. She was later turned into a mare, as she had prayed to the gods that her father Chiron would not be able to find her, as he was looking for her. Hippe was placed among the constellations by the goddess Artemis. It appears that she is still hiding from her father Chiron, who is represented by Centaurus constellation.
There is also another myth revolving around Equuleus. It is associated with the foal Celeris. This foal was presented as a gift from Mercury to Castor. The meaning of Celeris is speed, swiftness. Celeris was probably the brother or maybe the offspring of Pegasus, the winged horse.
According to another myth, during a competition between him and Athena, where they decided the superior most, Poseidon’s trident had struck Equuleus.