The Giant

Abbreviation: Her
Genitive: Herculis
Origin: [antiquity]

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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 A small telescope reveals a fifth-magnitude companion.
β Her Kornephoros
δ Her Sarin
κ Her Marsic
λ Her Maasym
ω Her Cujam
HD 149026 Ogma At least one exoplanet has been found in orbit about this faint star.
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.