Constellation Pisces

Constellation Pisces contains the Spiral Galaxy Messier 74.
Constellation Pisces contains the Spiral Galaxy Messier 74.

The constellation Pisces has very few bright stars capable of being seen by the naked eye. You may be able to view some of the stars within the constellation by using a low-powered telescope, but the best way to see the constellation Pisces is with a high-powered one.

Constellation Pisces: How To Find It

You may be surprised to learn that the constellation Pisces is actually a V-shape. It lies west of the constellation Aquarius and east of the constellation Aries, placing it between the two constellations.

Astronomical Location

The Circlet found in Pisces, the head of the Western fish, is the most viewable part of the constellation. It's located south of the Great Square of Pegasus. The Great Square of Pegasus separates Pisces from the Milky Way. This configuration of stars can only be seen during the fall season, and many people often mistake this large square for the Big Dipper. In fact, it's nicknamed the Autumn Dipper.

Locate the circlet stars:

  • Gamma Psc
  • Theta Psc
  • Iota Psc
  • Lambda Psc
  • Kappa Psc

Pisces: A Galaxy Within

The constellation Pisces holds a wonderful surprise for the star-gazer because it contains a galaxy called the Spiral Galaxy Messier 74, named after Charles Messier. This galaxy is a Sc Spiral galaxy that is identified by the small bulge located in the center. Spiral arms radiate out from the bulging center in an atypical loose manner.

Super Novae Discovered

Amateur astronomers discovered a Type I and Type II supernovae within Pisces in 2002 and 2003.

  • Type I occurs when a White Dwarf's companion star falls or collides into it and the gases cause the White Dwarf star to explode and collapse.
  • Type II occurs when the core of a massive star collapses. It can leave behind either neutron stars or black holes, depending on the size of the mass.

Meteor Shower

Two meteor showers can be seen within the constellation Pisces:

  • The Piscids shower is an annual show viewed from August 12 through October 7. The maximum number of meteors per hour is five which appear on September 11.
  • The Gamma Piscids shower takes place around the end of August to some time mid-October. No maximum number of meteors has yet been determined.

Pisces Zodiac Symbol

Pisces is the twelfth and final sign in the zodiac wheel. It's one of the water signs. The Latin word, Pisces, is plural for fish. The zodiac symbol for constellation Pisces depicts two fish joined together from mouth to tail and tail to mouth. Neptune is Pisces' ruling planet. Neptune is the supreme illusionist of dreams and imagination.

Pisces In Greek Mythology

In Greek mythology, Typhon, a monster fire creature, set out to overthrow Zeus. All of the other gods as well as the goddesses escaped by turning themselves into animals. Abandoned, Zeus was left to fight Typhon by himself. It was during the flight of the gods that Aphrodite, also known as Venus in Roman Mythology, and her son, Eros (Cupid) came upon Typhon near a river. Aphrodite turned herself and Eros into fish. Worried they would lose each other during the escape down river, she bound their tails together with two ropes.

The bright star, Risha, is situated halfway between the two fish and is said to be the knot joining the two ropes together. The Olympian gods eventually returned to Mount Olympus to fight, and Zeus defeated Typhon.

Two fishes connected with a knotted rope.

Heavenly Symbol: Connecting The Stars

This ancient tale of Aphrodite and Eros is depicted in drawings of the constellation Pisces. The stars create two fish joined together by two strands of knotted rope. Some artistic interpretations are a combination of human stick figures with fish heads.

Other cultures have signs that resemble Pisces:

  • Chinese yin yang sign
  • Pagan symbol of the moon and sun within a circle

Pisces: Traits And Influences

If you were born between February 20 - March 20 then your astrological sign is Pisces. You are intuitive and highly sensitive. You possess an abundance of compassion and empathy that, if not checked, can border on the side of extreme selflessness. You don't like being in loud crowds and prefer solitude for deep contemplation and daydreaming.

Age of Aquarius vs. Age of Pisces

The majority of tropical astrologers believe we're still living in the Age of Pisces. Tropical astrology uses the points (tropics) where the sun rises and sets during the summer and winter solstices as reference points. According to these calculations, the Age of Aquarius won't arrive for another 500 to 600 years.

Best Time of Year to View

If you want to see the constellation Pisces, your best viewing time will be during the fall.

Constellation Pisces