Aries, "The Ram", is an ancient constellation which
was of considerable importance since the sun passed through it at the vernal
This point has now moved into Pisces, but the vernal equinox is still
known as the First Point of Aries. (As a matter of possible interest, in
the year 2000 the point will be at zero degrees and zero hours; about
6.5º south of omega Psc.) In another six hundred years the point
will have moved into Aquarius.
The Ram in question may have been the one whose golden fleece was the
object of Jason's quest.
There is some reason to believe that the Greeks just took over a much
older horned animal at this time of the year; the horn being a symbol for
fecundity, renewal, and so on. As the Sun came into this constellation,
at the vernal equinox, the year itself was being renewed.
Aries' stars are rather faint except for
alpha and beta, which are only second magnitude stars.
Gamma Arietis is a well-known binary of similar stars: 4.8, 4.8;
PA 360º, separation 7.8".
Lambda Arietis is a wide binary: 4.9, 7.7; PA 46º, separation 37.4".
Epsilon Arietis is a closer binary of nearly equal stars: 5.2, 5.5; PA 203º, separation 1.4".
30 Ari is a fixed binary with wide component: 6.6, 7.4; PA 274º and separation 38.6".
33 Ari is also fixed, with a faint component: 5.5, 8.4; PA 360º,
Gamma2 Arietis is an alpha CV type variable: 4.62-4.66
with a period of 2.6 days.
SX Arietis (56 Ari) is the prototype of a special class of
rotating variables, similar to alpha CV variables. SX Ari varies from
5.67 to 5.81 every 17h28m.
Deep Sky Objects:
NGC 772 is a strangely shaped diffuse galaxy with a spiral arm on
It's found about one degree ESE of gamma Ari.
For a closer appreciation of Aries, visit the Binocular Section.