Pegasus, the winged horse, flew out of the head of Medusa when Perseus
slew her. It was fathered by Poseidon, some time earlier, and waited for
the Gorgon's death to appear. (Medusa's story is told under the
Now Bellerophon was sent off on another mission, which he accomplished
with equal aplomb. Flushed with victory, he flew off for Olympus, home of
the gods, as if he too were immortal. Zeus sent a gadfly, which stung
Pegasus on the bum, and Bellerophon was kicked off the horse.
Athene gave Pegasus to Bellerophon (a grandson of Sisyphus), who used
the winged creature in his fight against the Chimaera - a monstrous
female with three heads.
Bellerophon shot arrows at the beast as he flew above her on Pegasus,
then he stuck between her jaws a huge lump of lead. The monster's own
breath melted the lead, which then flowed down her throat and burned her
Pegasus went alone to Olympus, where he was used by Zeus to carry around
his thunderbolts. As for Bellerophon, for his presumption of greatness,
he wandered about the earth for the rest of his life, blind, lame, and
shunned by man, until dying of old age.
Pegasus is a conspicuous constellation which
includes the so-called "Great Square of Pegasus". However it must now
share the northeast corner of the square with Andromeda: delta
Pegasus was given to Andromeda, to provide the lady with a head!
The stars are generally second and third
magnitude. There are several interesting binaries here, a curious flare
star, and one outstanding deep sky object.
Double stars in Pegasus:
Kappa Pegasi is a very close binary, with an orbit of only 11.52 years: 4.9, 5.0; presently
the companion is at PA 281º and separation of only 0.2".
37 Pegasi is another close binary, with an orbit of 140 years: 5.8, 7.1; presently the
companion is found at PA 117º and separation of 1.0".
85 Pegasi is a well-known close binary with orbit of 26.27 years: 5.8, 8.9; currently the
companion is at PA 273º and separation of 0.8".
Variable stars in Pegasus:
Epsilon Pegasi is an irregular (Lb type) variable, and a flare star
with a relatively cool shell. This supergiant can get as bright as 0.7
magnitude, and dimmer than 3.5. Generally it stays around 2.4.
Deep Sky Objects in Pegasus:
Pegasus has many galaxies and an outstanding globular cluster.
M15 (NGC 7078) is one of the finest globular clusters in the
heavens, very bright and compact, at 35,000 to 40,000 light years away.
It is found four degrees NW of epsilon Pegasi.
NGC 7331 is a spiral galaxy resembling the Milky Way Galaxy; it's
as if we were looking at outselves from fifty million light years away.
NGC 7479 is a barred spiral galaxy about three degrees due south
of alpha Pegasi.
Stephan's Quintet is a noted cluster of galaxies half a degree
SSW of NGC 7331. See how many of the five you can spot (three is
average, four is good).
For a more detailed appreciation of Pegasus, visit the Binocular Section.
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