BY BILL PELLERIN
OBJECT: Eltanin, Gamma Dra, 33 Dra
CONSTELLATION: Draco (the dragon or serpent)
R.A.: 17 h, 56 m, 36 s
DEC: 51° 29’ 20”
DISTANCE: 150 ly
OPTICS NEEDED: Unaided eye
In the rather dim constellation of Draco, this star is the brightest at magnitude 2.24. Beta Dra (Rastaban), which should be brighter is 2.9 magnitude, and Alpha Dra (Thuban), which should be brighter than either of these two shines at 3.6 magnitude. So much for Bayer designations being in order of magnitude.
Thuban has the distinction of having been the ‘Polaris’ (pole star) around 3942 BC, so it’s likely that the designation of it as the Alpha star is because of its position, not its brightness.
The star lies about 14.5 degrees north and a little west (333 degree position angle) of the star Vega, which shines at 0.0 magnitude and is easy to find in the summer sky. Find Eltanin by drawing a line from Altair to Vega and on to Eltanin.
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