Hercules: The Son of Zeus


Object: Hercules
Location: Savoy, MA
Observer: Roland Roberts
Time: 2002-Aug-08 23:00 EDT
Camera: Pentax K1000, 50 mm f/1.4 lens
Camera: Pentax Spotmatic, 50 mm f/1.4 lens
Film: Kodak Elite Chrome II, ISO 200
Exposure: 30 min @ f/2.8 + 30 min @ f/4
PWP gradient removal, midtone boost, curves.
RegiStar average combine.
GIMP overlay

Hercules passes directly overhead on summer nights in the mid-northern latitudes. Still, Hercules possesses none of the extraordinarily bright stars like Lyra or Orion to make it a readily recognizable constellation. The most recognizable feature for locating Hercules in the night sky is the "keystone" shape which forms the body of Hercules.

Hercules enjoys better name recognition than most of the Greek heroes, even among those immortalized in the constellations. In the United States, at least, there is some feedback in keeping him popular from the movie industry, ranging from the 1939 movie Hercules, though the 1990s series "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys," and even the Disney animation. For general information about the myths surrounding Hercules and more links, have a look at this Russian site.

Interestingly, it would appear that although we know the constellation as Hercules, it was originally known to the Greeks as simply "the Kneeling Man" and the origins of this designation seem to have been lost even to the Greeks.

The following objects are labeled in the image:

The planetary nebula NGC 6210 is far too small (0.3") to resolve at any scale available to most amateurs, but it is incredibly bright. It's magnitude is nearly the same as M57 in Lyra, but its size means its surface brightness is much higher. In any event, is shows up as a small reddish speck on this image (although unless you are looking at the small version of this image you will not see it).

The globular cluster NGC 6229 is not so close to the edge of visibility in this image, but there two stars about 5 arc-seconds away to the west which makes it difficult to distinguish except at the highest size available here. Of course, none of the globular clusters show any structure at this scale; the film resolution appears to be about 1-3 arc-minutes.