05 July 2021

Fun Facts

1. Equuleus means ‘little horse’ in Latin
2. It is the second smallest of all modern constellations
3. Sometimes referred to as Equus Primus, the First Horse, or the Little Horse
4. The constellation only contains one formally named star
5. Depicted by some to be in a horse race with the constellation Pegasus

An overview

The constellation of Equuleus makes up a twisted rectangle that depicts an imagery of the head and neck of a horse. The constellation consists of three main stars, with the brightest, Kitalpha, being also quite faint with an apparent magnitude below 4

The constellation is one of the ancient constellations catalogued by Ptolemy, and is most visible in northern latitudes during the months of September and October.

The myth

The constellation of Equuleus is usually largely associated with the tale of Hippe, who is the daughter of Chiron, the centaur. It is said that Hippe was seduced by Aoelus, the divine keeper of the winds, and had later became pregnant with his child

She was too ashamed of her pregnancy to tell her father, and had hidden her conceiving from Chiron. To do this, she had escaped to the wildness of the mountains, and had stayed there until childbirth, where she gave birth to Melanippe.

However, Chiron came looking for his daughter, and Hippe prayed to the gods to seek their aide in avoiding being found by her father. In response, the gods turned her into a mare and placed her among the stars to hide from Chiron, thus birthing the constellation of Equuleus, with only its head peeking out from behind Pegasus, determined not to be spotted.

The constellation

The constellation of Equuleus is situated in the northern sky’s fourth quadrant, and is visible between latitudes -80 to +90 degrees. It neighbors the constellations of Aquarius, Delphinus, and Pegasus.

Of the three main stars it consists, there exists only one celestial body of note: Kitalpha, otherwise known as Alpha Equulei, which is a spectroscopic binary star whose Arabic name directly translates as ‘a piece of the horse’.

Want to learn about other constellations aside from Equuleus? Find out more about Virgo or Libra. Alternatively, you can simply click here for a full list of constellations.