SkyEye

Hercules

The Giant

Abbreviation: Her
Genitive: Herculis
Origin: [antiquity]

The constellation of Hercules

Hercules is the Roman name for the Greek divine hero Heracles. He was the son of the king of the gods, Zeus, and the mortal woman Alcmene. Alcmene herself was the granddaughter of the hero Perseus. Since Perseus was also a son of Zeus, Heracles was both the half brother and great-grandson of Perseus!

Heracles is famous for his many adventures, not least of which are the 'Twelve Labours' performed for King Eurystheus. Whilst fighting the many-headed monster, the Hydra, he stepped on a crab which was subsequently immortalised in the skies. And the Nemean Lion was also placed amongst the stars after Heracles dispatched it. Ladon, the dragon who guarded the golden apples in the Garden of the Hesperides, was similarly killed by Heracles.

Heracles had four wives and many lovers, resulting in several dozen children. His human side died through treachery and his immortal side was raised to Mount Olympus after his death.

Some old star atlases show Hercules holding Cerberus (later called Cerberus et Ramus Pomifer) at arm's length. This obsolete constellation is not officially recognised.

Notable Features

Designation Name Description
Lyrids Confusingly, the radiant for the Lyrid meteor shower lies just inside the border of Hercules. The meteors from this April shower are brighter than average and originate from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.
α Her Rasalgethi This star sometimes appears as Alkalbalrai (from the Arabic kalb al‑rāʿī meaning 'the dog of the shepherd') in older star atlases and catalogues. In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Dizuo, from Dì Zuò meaning 'the seat of the emperor'. A small telescope reveals a fifth-magnitude companion.
β Her Kornephoros This star sometimes appears as Rutilicus (from the Latin titillicus meaning 'the armpit') in older star atlases and catalogues. In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Hezhong, from Hé Zhōng meaning 'in the river'.
δ Her Sarin This star appears as Menkib al Djathi al Aisr (from the Arabic 'mankib ul‑jāthi lʾaysar meaning 'the shoulder of the kneeler') in Mohammad Al Achsasi Al Mouakket's calendarium. In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Wei, from Wèi which was an ancient Chinese state.
κ Her Marsic In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Jin, from Jìn which was an ancient Chinese state.
λ Her Maasym In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Zhao, from Zhào which was an ancient Chinese state.
ω Her Cujam
HAT-P-14 Franz This tenth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
HD 146389 Irena This ninth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
HD 147506 Hunor This ninth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
HD 149026 Ogma This eighth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
TrES-3 Pipoltr This twelfth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
M13 Great Globular Cluster This is the brightest globular cluster in the northern sky and is visible to the naked eye as a fuzzy blur on one side of the asterism known as the 'Keystone'.
M92 Although one of the brighter globular clusters in the sky, binoculars are needed to see it.