Pegasus Constellation Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Pegasus is a winged horse in Greek mythology. In this lesson, you'll learn about the story of Pegasus and how it relates to the group of stars in the sky by the same name.

The Winged Horse

In Greek mythology, Medusa was an ugly monster with snakes for hair. If anyone looked at her face, they would immediately turn to stone. The Greek hero Perseus was sent to kill Medusa. When he chopped off her head, a beautiful white horse with wings sprang out. That horse was named Pegasus.

Pegasus, the Winged Horse

Pegaus is said to have pawed the ground to create a spring of water. In fact, the name 'Pegasus' actually means 'waters' in Greek! There was a fountain that was built at the spring and the fountain is called Hippocrene, which means 'the horse's fountain.' Legend says that if you take a drink from the fountain Hippocrene, you will become a wonderful poet!

Zeus, the king of the gods, used Pegasus to carry his thunder and lightning to Earth. Zeus also put Pegasus in the sky to be a constellation.

The Constellation Pegasus

A constellation is a section of the sky that contains many stars, some of which can be connected with imaginary lines to make pictures. Today, there are 88 constellations.

Pegasus is one of the oldest constellations; it's been named for almost 2,000 years! The Greek astronomer Ptolemy, one of the first to write down his studies of the stars, named 48 constellations. We still use his names for these star patterns today.

Stars in Pegasus

Pegasus is a very big constellation. It's so big you can see it from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and there are only 6 constellations that are larger!

Pegasus is made up of more than 20 stars, but most of the time, people are only looking at the brightest stars that make up the front part of his body and his head. The brightest star in Pegasus is Enif, which makes up the nose of the horse. The star Scheat makes part of the horse's leg, and Algenib is its wing.

Stars in Pegasus

Within the constellation of Pegasus, there is a smaller pattern of stars that is easy to see, called 'The Square of Pegasus.' It's made up by four stars: Markab, Alpheratz, Scheat, and Algenib. This star square makes up most of the body of Pegasus.

Other Space Objects in Pegasus

There's more than stars within the constellation Pegasus! When astronomers looked at the star 51 Pegasus, which is part of the Pegasus constellation, through a telescope, they saw a planet! It was the first Sun-like star that was found to have a planet orbiting it. Since it was discovered, astronomers have found that at least 9 stars in Pegasus have planets circling them.

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