α Piscium

Alpha Piscium (Al Rischa, The Cord) ties the two fish together.

Locating Al Rischa could be a problem if you don't enjoy the best skies. It's found far to the southeast of the constellation.

First find Alpheratz (alpha Andromedae) and Aldebaran (alpha Tauri).

     Draw a line from Alpheratz to Aldebaran; you'll find Hamal (alpha Arietis) midway along this line. Now from Hamal drop straight south twenty degrees four fields of view): binoculars.

In early Autumn skies Pisces is to the southeast around one or two a.m.; during the last week of October it is due south at midnight.

Al Rischa is a multiple system (Struve 202) with some very wide components:
      AB: 4.1, 5.2; 266, 1.7" with an orbit of 933 years.
      AC: 4.1, 8.3; 63, 405".
      AD: 4.1, 8.6; 335, 434.5".

If Pisces is mostly comprised of 4th- and 5th-magnitude stars, to make matters even more difficult, the stars are widely scattered, and don't form a distinctive asterism. With the naked eye you might discern a line of stars to the northwest of alpha and another one stretching out westward. These two faint lines represent the two fish.

We'll first follow the western line of stars. Three binocular fields west-northwest brings you to zeta and epsilon.

Click on zeta to continue.

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.