Deep Space Review: The Constellation Lacerta(LAC) “The Lizard”


Once upon a time the Demeter goddess looked for her Persefone daughter, who had been raptada by Hades in all his might. When she passed by the region of Atica, one of the two felt thirsty and she requested water to drink a woman called Misme. The goddess drank with such avidity that caused the laughter of Ascxabalo, the son of Misme. Angered of which they smiled at themselves and she threw on him the rest of the water and the boy for whom became a lizard or lacerta like Latin nomenclature of the constellation.

As you closely look up into the Northern Hemisphere you may stumble on to one of the smallest constellations that grace the night sky. Lacerta, or “The Lizard” is the smallest modern constellation wonderfully placed amongst the greats; Constellations Cygnus, Cassiopeia, and Andromeda. First discovered by the ancient astronomers, but never considered large enough until the year 1687 by Johannes Hecelius – mayor, councilor, and astronomer in Gdańsk. LAC lies +45° declination and 22.5N h right ascension, taking up only the space it needs. Furthermore, LAC is located in the NQ4 Quadrant in the Northern Celestial Spere. Excitingly, the Northern part of LAC is lies on the Milky Way. Another cool thing is that the 5 bright stars that outline the constellation Lacerta form a “W” shape in the sky, mimicking none other than the shape of a Lizard.

Famous assaciations with “The Lizard” constellation are:

USS Lacerta: an Attack Navel Cargo Ship named after the Constellation.

5 Bright Stars: Smallest named modern constellation.

Alpha Lacerta – Brightest Star at +3.8: Proving the stretch of the Constellation.

The Lizard: Referring to the shape which is in reference to the mythological story of  Demeter.


What I love best about this constellation is how it looks like its moving through the sky. As you look at the proclaimed “W” shape in the sky, you might notice how the zig-zag of the lines seem to stretch out as the constellation nears the +45° declination mark. In relation, if you were to watch a lizard scurry off away from you, you might see the same effect. This suits one thing very adequately:  In the mythological story the boy turns into a lizard due to him making fun of how fast the goddess drank the water, for whom equaled to her thirst. Thus, he would have scurried off in fright and shame.

As we look up into the starry northern hemisphere we may find five bright stars that outlines a reminder not to make fun of someone that we don’t know the history, but rather be considerate of their history. Isn’t amazing that objects thousands of light years away can keep us humble, even down here on Earth?

Constellation Lacerta(LAC) +45° Declination and 22.5N h Right Ascension, In All It's Little Glory!


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