Draco is the eighth largest constellation in the night sky, occupying an area of 1083 square degrees. It is located in the third quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ3) and can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -15°. Neighboring constellations are Boteros, Camelopardalis (the Giraffe), Cepheus, Cygnus, Hercules, Lyra, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor.
Draco belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations, along with Coma Berenices, Botero , Camelopardalis , Canes Venatici , Corona Borealis , Leo Minor , Lynx , Ursa Major and Ursa Minor . Draco has nine stars with known planets and contains one Messier object, M102 (NGC 5866). The brightest star in the constellation is Gamma Draconis. There is a meteor shower associated with the constellation; The Draconids.
The constellation Draco is associated with several myths, the most common being the 12 labors of Hercules or Heracles, represented by the neighboring constellation of the demigod. In the myth, Draco represents Ladon, the dragon that guarded the golden apples in the gardens of the Hesperides. The golden apple tree was a wedding gift to Hera when she married Zeus. She planted the tree in her garden on Mount Atlas and commissioned Atlas’ daughters, the Hesperides, to care for it. She also placed the dragon Ladon around the tree so that the Hesperides would not pick any apples.
In some versions of the myth, Ladon had a hundred heads and was the son of the monster Typhon and Echidna, who was half-woman and half-serpent. In others, he was the offspring of two sea deities, Ceto and Forcys, and there is no mention of how many heads he had. As part of his 12 labors, Heracles was asked to steal some golden apples from the tree. He killed Ladon with his poisoned arrows and took the apples. Saddened by the dragon’s death, Hera placed his image in the sky among the constellations. Draco is usually depicted coiled around the North Pole, with a foot of Heracles on his head.
In Roman mythology, Draco was one of the giant titans who fought with the Olympian gods for ten years. He was killed in battle by the goddess Minerva and cast into the sky, where he was frozen around the North Pole.
Gamma Draconis is the brightest star in Draco. It has an apparent magnitude of 2.3617 and is 154.3 light-years away from the solar system. It is sometimes referred to as the Zenith Star because it is near the zenith point directly over London. Gamma Draconis is 471 times more luminous than the Sun and has 72 percent more mass.
Eta Draconis is the second brightest star in Draco. It is a giant star belonging to spectral class G8 III with an apparent magnitude of 2.73. It is approximately 92.1 light-years away from the solar system. The age of the star is estimated to be 550 million years. It is 60 times more luminous than the sun.
Beta Draconis, the third brightest star in the constellation has a visual magnitude of 2.79 and is about 380 light years away. It has 40 times the radius of the Sun and about six solar masses. It is 950 times more luminous than the sun. It is a yellow star. The estimated age of Beta Draconis is 67 million years. The bright giant has a dwarf star for a companion, making Beta Draconis a binary system. The star’s traditional name, Rastaban, comes from the Arabic ra’s ath-thu’ban , meaning «the head of the snake.»
I invite you to read Matias’ post with the topic of the day.
Finally, I encourage everyone to reflect on the concept of the day. No one else but us can re-signify our own being