English: The Lizard
Size Ranking: 68th
Area: 201 square degrees
Fully Visible: 90°N – 33°S
Lacerta adjoins Cygnus with similar viewing requirements advisable, ie. low northern horizon and clear viewing conditions.
Lacerta is an inconspicuous constellation sandwiched between Cygnus and Andromeda, and was introduced in 1687 by the Polish astronomer, Johannes Hevelius. An alternative constellation that once occupied this area was Sceptrum, the Sceptre and Hand of Justice, created in 1679 by the Frenchman, Augustin Royer to commemorate King Louis XIV. In 1787 the German Johann Elert Bode called this region Frederick’s Glory in honour of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. Both these alternatives have been discarded.
Lacerta lies to the right of Cygnus, as viewed locally.
Features of Interest :
αLac is this constellation’s brightest star at magnitude 3.8. It is a blue-white main sequence star 102ly distant.
βLac is a yellow giant of magnitude 4.4 and is 170ly away.
NGC 7243 is a scattered open cluster of a few dozen stars of 8th magnitude and fainter, 2500ly away.
BL Lac is this constellation’s most celebrated object, which was originally thought to be a peculiar 14th magnitude variable star but is now determined to be the prototype of a group of objects, the BL Lac objects or Lacertids, believed to be giant elliptical galaxies with variable centres, lying far off in the Universe and evidently related to quasars. These objects vary between about 12th and 16th magnitudes.
Three bright naked eye novae appeared within the boundaries of Lacerta during the 20th century.
1. Redshift 2 – Maris Multimedia
2. The Guinness Book of Astronomy – Patrick Moore
3. Stars and Planets – Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion
Sky Charts – Cartes du Ciel V 2.75