LACERTA "The Lizard" (pronounced lah-SUR-tah).

Chart showing the constellation.

Lacerta is a small northern and inconspicuous constellation, half immersed in the Milky Way between Cygnus and Andromeda. It is very low or impossible to see for many New Zealanders. (The chart shown is for Auckland. Christchurch astronomers would only see a small amount of the tail.)

The constellation was introduced in 1687 by the Polish astronomer Hevelius, and included 10 stars. Earlier in 1679, Royer had made a figure in this part of the sky, which he called the Sceptre and Hand of Justice, in honour of Louis XIV, but this rather awkward name has now been forgotten, while Lacerta has remained.

To find this constellation look low to the north in the evening sky, and find the bright star Deneb. Look between Deneb and the Great Square of Pegasus. Deneb will not be visible from southern New Zealand, in which case look below and slightly to the left of the great Square.

Chart showing the constellation to the north at its highest. The horizon is for Auckland.

Lacerta chart

Pegasus constellation Pisces constellation Andromeda constellation Cygnus constellation Velpecula constellation Sagitta constellation Delphinus constellation

Some stars in the Constellation.

α Lacertae is a magnitude 3.8 blue-white star, 102 light years away, with a dim companion.

β Lac is a magnitude 4.4 yellow giant star, 170 light years away.

From New Zealand, these two stars are only visible from northern parts of the North Island


Lacerta is to the north and highest at about 11 pm (NZDT) at the beginning of October, at 10 pm mid October and 9 pm by the end of the month. By early November it will be lost in evening twilight.

From Auckland, α Lac and, even more so, β Lac skim the northern horizon for an hour or so either side of transit. From the southern half of the North Island they do not rise above the horizon. Only the southern half of the constellation rises a few degrees above the northern horizon for places in the South Island.