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Hercules - the Hero


Mythology - The Babylonians equated this upside-down kneeling figure with their god Marduk. The Greek legend of Heracles (Hercules is Roman) is well known and starts with the child born the son of Zeus and the mortal Alcmene. Hera, Zeus' wife, was understandably jealous of this tryst and plotted to kill Heracles when he was a child. All of her plans, including a giant snake sent to crush the infant, failed miserably due to his uncanny strength. Later, Heracles went on to perform 12 labours which included the slaying of the Nemean Lion, the slaughter of the Hydra and the capture of the golden apples of the Hesperides, a task that he tricked Atlas into doing for him.
Stars - Alpha herculis or Ras Algethi is a lovely coloured double star which appears orange/green through a telescope.
Deepsky - The finest globular cluster visible from the northern hemisphere is located in Hercules and is a naked eye object. M13 contains roughly 100 000 old red stars and was the target of a radio message designed to contact extra-terrestrial life forms in 1974. Sadly, due to the incredible distance of this cluster, it will be about 52 000 years before we get a reply! Neighbouring globular cluster M92 is less spectacular, but worth a look in binoculars.
Visibility - Hercules can be seen from June through to September