The American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Serving the Amateur Astronomy Community ONLINE since 1996

The Constellation Home Page

Online Store


Search AAAA

The AAAA Universe
Start Here

The AAAA Online Store

Join the AAAA

Control Center
Site Table of Contents

AAAA Members
  Reports and Activities

Frequently Asked Questions

to Astronomy Sites

News from the AAAA
Press Releases and News Updates

An Overview of Astronomy
A Concise Guide to the Universe

The Solar System
Planetary Data Page

The Constellation 
Home Page
Data, Myths and Background

Arp Peculiar Galaxies
A CCD Image Gallery

The American Astronomer 
The AAAA  Newsletter Online

Observing Programs
from the  Astronomical League 

Club Discount
on Magazine Subscriptions

Members of the AAAA Team

The American Association of Amateur Astronomers 
AAAA Mission Statement

Special Offer
A Primer for Beginning Astronomers

Astronomy Information from Sky&Telescope via Electronic Mailing List

AL Observing Programs in PDF Format

AL Observing Programs in Adobe Acrobat PDF Format

Join the AAAA's FREE Online Discussion Group, Hosted by Yahoo's eGroups Service

P.O. Box 7981
Dallas, TX 75209-0981

Formerly Corvus.Com


Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company
Buy it Now or 
Find Out More


The American Association of Amateur Astronomers

Learn the Constellations
The First Light Astronomy Kit from David Chandler Company

 Buy it Now or Find Out More

The Constellation Hydra - The Water Snake

Mythology: Hydra - The Water Snake 

Hydra was a monstrous water snake who lived in the marshes of Lema, often attacking the people of the nearby country of Argos. This fierce serpent had nine heads, the center head being immortal. As one of the twelve labors ordered by Zeus, Hercules was sent to destroy the many-headed monster. This task appeared impossible, as each time one of the monster's heads was severed, two new ones grew in its place. Much discouraged, Hercules sought the advice of his clever nephew, Iolaus, who suggested burning off the heads of the serpent. The two successfully accomplished this, finally burying the central, indestructible head of Hydra. The victorious Hercules then dipped his arrows in Hydra's immortal blood, forever rendering the wounds he inflicted as deadly.

The constellation of Hydra is both the largest and longest of all the constellations, spanning almost 7 hours of Right Ascension, and covering over 1300 square degrees. The attendant constellations of Corvus, Crater, and Sextans seem to ride on the back of Hydra as it winds across the sky. While on the whole this is a rather sparse region of the sky containing primarily faint and distant galaxies, there are three Messier objects and several fine Herschel objects in the area, making the hunt worthwhile.


M-48 - This is a fine open cluster over one half of a degree in diameter, and easily seen in binoculars. It is composed primarily of fairly bright stars, loosely concentrated to the center. I estimated about 75 stars in the area.

M-68 - This rather bright globular cluster is about 8-10' in diameter and is very compact, showing a bright, granulated core and many stars resolved around its edges.

M-83 - This is one of the finest examples of a face on barred spiral galaxies in the sky. It is large, about 10' in diameter, with an obvious central bar and spiral arms which seem to go all the way around the galaxy. Often photographed by amateurs, this is a real gem of the night sky.

NGC 3242 - The Ghost of Jupiter. This is a very impressive planetary nebula, showing a blue-green disk almost 1' in diameter with a bright center and fuzzy edges. I saw a bright spot on the SE edge, and another but fainter brightening to its NW.

Article © Copyright Rick Raasch
© Copyright Edward P. Flaspoehler, Jr.

Messier Objects in Hydra











Open Cluster

8h 13.8

-5d 48






Globular Cluster

12h 39.5

-26d 45







13h 37.1

-29d 52


11' X 10'


The Constellation Home Page
Sponsored by the American Association of Amateur Astronomers.

EDITOR: Edward P. Flaspoehler, Jr.

Help support the development of the Constellation Home Page.
Become a member of the American Association of Amateur Astronomers.
To join, send your name and address along with y our check for $20.00 ($25.00 family)
to the following address.

LOGO: American Association of Amateur Astronomers

P.O. Box 7981,
Dallas, TX 75209-0981

Web Page:

Unless otherwise indicated:
All Content © Copyright 1998 by The American Association of Amateur Astronomers
All rights reserved.

Go to Top of Constellation Home Page

Home ] The 88 Astronomical Constellations ] The Winter Constellations ] The Spring Constellations ] The Summer Constellations ] The Autumn Constellations ] The Southern Constellations ] The 12 Zodiacal Constellations and the Signs of the Zodiac ]

Tell Your Friends the Benefits of Joining 
the American Association of Amateur Astronomers!

Observing Awards. Quarterly Newsletter.
Astronomy News and Special Publications.
Club Discounts on Astronomical Publications.
Full Membership in the Astronomical League.

AL Logo
The American Association of Amateur Astronomers is a Member Society of The Astronomical League


Friends of 
McDonald Observatory

SEDS - Students for the Exploration and Development of Space

Planetary Society Member


Join the American Association
of Amateur Astronomers.

Use your credit card  
or send your name and address along with your check for $20.00 ($25.00 family) 
made payable to AAAA, to:

P.O. Box 7981
Dallas, TX 75209-0981

Visits to This Web Site:  Hit Counter