Cep - Cepheus the King of Ethiopia

Legend for constellation star maps, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), cc-by

Intro and Visual description

Another circumpolar constellation is the Ethiopian king, Cepheus (SEE-fee-us). He sits atop the Milky Way on a throne near his queen Cassiopeia. The legs and seat of his throne make a rough square. On the Ursa Major side of Cassiopeia, looks like a house (or throne) sitting on the Milky Way. Look for mu-Cephei, the "garnet star," with a deep reddish tint. The back of the seat comes to a point at the top above his head.

Cepheus is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.


Skylore and Literature:  See Andromeda and Cassiopeia. Movies: Clash of the Titans; Internet movie database.


Special Stars

D-Cephei, pulsating giant star.
The Garnet Star is one of the reddest stars known. A huge red giant, much like Betelguese in Orion, its size is uncertain, but if its center were where our sun is, we would be inside it.

The brightest star in Cepheus is Alderamin. In 5000 years it will become the pole star, as it was in 18,000 B.C. (see discussion of precession under Lyra).



There is a star moving extremely rapidly, leaving a wake behind in the shape of a guitar known as the Guitar Nebula.





Constellation Info

Abbr: Cep

Genitive: Cephei

Size: 27 of 88

RA: 2 hours

Evening culmination (9 pm): November

Midnight Culmination: September, October

Decl: 70 degrees

Entirely visible from: N of -1° latitude

Partially visible from: between -39° and -1° latitude

Not visible at all from: S of -39° latitude


Bordering constellations:

Constellation - Names

Arabic: الملتهب

Chinese: 仙王座

English: King of Ethiopia

French: Céphée

German: Kepheus

Greek: Κηφεύς

Hebrew: קפאוס

Italian: Cefeo

Latin: Cepheus

Russian: Цефей

Spanish: Cefeo

Related Objects

Related Asterisms