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English name:
see Stellar data

I. sign of zodiac



A nice constellation of the autumn and winter sky. The sun passes through it from late April to mid-May. Although there are not many objects to observe in Aries this constellation is important to astronomers. In former times the vernal equinox (i.e. the point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator when moving from the south to the north) lies within Aries, but due to the effect of procession this point is nowadays located in the western neighbour Pisces. For historical reasons the vernal equinox is still referred as the First Point of Aries. The meaning of this point is equal to the meaning of the null meridian at Greenwich: it is the zero point of the right ascension.
This constellation can be found between DECL=+10 degrees and DECL=+30 degrees and between RA=1h 40m and RA=3h 30m, respectively.
Over the body of Aries another asterism is located: the Northern Fly hovers over Aries.

Stars and other objects

The double gamma Ari, commonly known as Mesarthim is an easy pair for small scopes. It consists of an B9 main sequence star of 4.83 mag and an A1pSi with 4.75 mag.
The A2Vs star epsilon Ari is a splendid double and an excellent test for an three inch telescope.
A good object for binocular and small telescopes is lambda Ari. The 5th mag star and it 7th mag companion can easily be resolved.
The double pi Ari is a blue-white star of 5th mag. Its companion is very close but can be separated in small telescopes when using a high magnification.
Although relatively poor in objects there are a quite large number of meteor showers: The May Arietids are a daylight shower discovered in 1960. This shower is active during May 4th to June 6th; the maximum occurs on May 16th.
From September 7th to October 27th the shower Autumn Arietids is active. Around October 8th the maximum of the shower activity occurs with 3 to 5 meteors per hour.
The shower Delta Arietids was discovered in 1959. The shower seems to the active from December 8th to December 13th.
The Epsilon Arietids are an daylight shower. Its active from April 25th to May 27th reaching the maximum on May 9th. This stream might be associated with the Southern Taurid stream of November.
The strongest daylight meteor shower of the year are the Daytime-Arietids. The meteors fall from May 22nd to July 2nd. The maximum takes place around June 8th with an hourly rate of 60.
The Aries-Triangulids were discovered quite recently. An unexpected shower activity was observed on 12. September 1993.
For detailed information please see the meteor shower database by Gary Kronk.

Mythological Background:

There are two stories about the heavenly Ram:
Once Athamas was king of Bootia. He and his wife Nephele had a son called Phrixus and a daughter called Helle. When time went by Athamas left Nephele and married Ino. But Ino fell in love with Phrixus, yet he didn't want her. This rejection made her so angry that she tried to kill him and his sister. But Phrixus and Helle were safed by their mother, who sent a ram to tell them to fly and go to Kolchis (Hyginus, Fabulae).
This ram was Chrysomallus, the son of the sea god Neptun and Theophane. He accompanied brother and sister. But only Phrixus reached Kolchis; his sister drowned on their way (the part where she drowned was named after her: Hellepontos; Apollodorus, c.Cf. Tzetzes ad Lycophr. v.22). Once in Kolchis Chrysomallus told Phrixus to sacrifice him (Schol. Apollonius ad. L.I.256). He gave his golden coat as farewell present and after his death he immediately went up to the stars and placed himself between the stars. Because he has no longer his golden coat, he is not very conspicious (Hygninus, Poeticon Astronomicum, L.II.c.20 and Eratosthenes, Catasterismi.
When Bacchus and his suite wandered through the lyberian desert, they were rescued from certain death by a ram, who showed them the way to a well. As a reward Bacchus set the ram under the stars and chose the place in a way, that whenever the sun wanderes through it everything on earth becomes green again and starts to flower (see: Hermippus and Hygenius; Poeticon Astronomicum lib.II.c.20).

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C. Kronberg --- 97/07/03 --- smil at clell.de