Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
Saturday 1st of December 2018 06:00 AM
Antlia is the Greek word for pump. It was given this name by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. The full name is even Antlia Pneumatica, because the constellation resembles this machine according to de Lacaille. It’s a fairly tiny constellation, only ranking 62nd out of 88. Alpha Antliae is the brightest star in the constellation located at about 365 light years away. Antlia was first catalogued in 1763 in Coelum Australe Stelliferum, published after the death of Lacaille.
Canis Major, the bigger dog. It is supposed to be a dog following Orion, the hunter from Greek mythology. He is accompanied by a smaller dog, the constellation Canis Minor, which is the neighboring constellation. Canis Major was given its name by Ptolemy, the most famous Greco-Roman astronomer. Within this constellation we can find Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky. You can spot Canis Major in the skies of the southern hemisphere at latitudes between +60 degrees and -90 degrees.
Canis Minor, Latin for smaller dog. Just like his big brother, Canis Major, this constellation represents a dog following Orion. Both constellations were created by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy. Another Greek legend identifies Canis Minor with Maera, the dog of winemaker Icarus who jumped off a cliff after friends killed Icarus by mistake. Canis Minor contains Luyten’s Star. This star is one of the nearest stars in the galaxy, from our perspective. It’s only 12.2 light years away.
Carina is the Latin word for keel of a ship. Originally, Carina was part of a larger constellation called Argo Navis created by Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy. French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille divided Argo Navis up into 3 constellations, Carina, Puppis (the stern) and Vela (the sail). Canopus, the second brightest star in our night sky is part of Carina. This star is a supergiant, with a slight yellowish color, at a distance of 310 light years.
Cassiopeia, queen of Ethiopia. This is one of the many constellations that was named by Ptolemy, the ancient astronomer who lived in the 2nd century AD. Cassiopeia is easy to recognise, as she has a clear W shape in the skies. Cassiopeia was the wife of King Cepheus, who has his own constellation. She was known for being very vain and acclaimed to be more beautiful than the sea nymphs. As a punishment, a whale was sent and the king and queen had to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda, who was rescued by Perseus.
Cetus or whale in Latin. This constellation can be found in a group of constellations with names dealing with water, such as Aquarius and Pisces. It was named by Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer who lived in the 2nd century AD. Cetus was the whale sent out to kill Andromeda, the Ethiopian princess who was being sacrificed by her mother and father only to be rescued by Perseus who she later married. Cetus also happens to be a large constellation, ranking fourth with an area of 1231 square degrees.
Columba which is Latin for dove. The original name of this constellation is Columba Noachi, after Noah’s dove which signalled that the sea level was dropping. It was given this name by Petrus Plancius, the Dutch astronomer from the early 17th century. Columba is the 54th constellation out of the 88 in size. You can find this constellation in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere between the latitudes +45 degrees and -90 degrees. Gliese 218 is the nearest star in Columba, at a distance of 48.9 light years.
Dorado which is Spanish for dolphinfish. This constellation was given its name by Dutchman Petrus Plancius. It was first documented in 1603 in the star atlas Uranometria by Johann Bayer. Dorado is a constellation that lies in the southern hemisphere and can be seen at latitudes between +20 and -90 degrees. Two of the stars in this constellation are known to have planets. Petrus Plancius created 12 constellations in total and gave almost all of them animal names.
Eridanus. This is the Greek name of the river Po in Italy. Originally, this constellation was called Srotaswini, which is Sanskrit for torrent or stream. Eridanus is usually depicted as the river flowing away from Aquarius. This constellation was first catalogued by Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer from the 2nd century AD. Ranking sixth largest constellation, Eridanus occupies 1138 square degrees in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere.
Fornax is Latin for furnace. This constellation was given its name by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, the French astronomer from the 18th century. With only 1 star brighter than magnitude 4.0, Fornax is quite an obscure constellation. Originally, the name that was given was Fornax Chemica, named after the chemical furnace used for experiments. It was British astronomer Francis Bailey who shortened it to Fornax in 1845. Fornax ranks 41st in the list of largest constellations.
Gemini or twins in Latin. This is one of the 12 zodiac constellations. Gemini represents the twins Castor and Pullox and was first mentioned by Ptolemy, the ancient Greek astronomer from the 2nd century AD. It was given this name because Gemini has 2 bright stars, called Castor and Pullox as well. With 514 square degrees, Gemini occupies the 30th rank as largest constellation. You can find it in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere.
Horologium is the Latin word for clock. This constellation was created by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. Originally, it was named Horologium Oscillatorium, the pendulum clock, but it was later shortened to Horologium. Gliese 1061 is the nearest star in this constellation from Earth, at a distance of 12 light years. The constellation was created to honor Christiaan Huygens, the inventor of the pendulum clock. Nicolas Louis de Lacaille named all his constellations after tools and instruments.
Hydrus, also known as the lesser water snake or the male water snake. It is the counterpart of Hydra, the bigger water snake. Also as a constellation, Hydrus is much smaller than Hydra. With 243 square degrees it takes the 61st place when comparing all constellations by size. Hydrus was mapped by Dutch navigators, but given its name by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. You can find Hydrus in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere.
Lepus is the Latin name for hare. This constellation lies under the feet of Orion in the northern hemisphere. This is why Lepus is often depicted as being chased by Orion or his hunting dogs represented in the constellation Canes Venatici. The constellation was first catalogued by the Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy, who lived about 1900 years ago. Lepus ranks 51st in the list of largest constellations and covers an area of 290 square degrees in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere.
Lynx which means lynx in Latin as well. This constellation was created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. Although it is a Latin name for an animal, there is no mythological backstory to Lynx. Between Auriga and Ursa Major, there was quite the gap filled with stars, so Hevelius created a constellation out of those stars. With 545 square degrees in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere, Lynx comes in at place 28 in the list of largest constellations.
Mensa. This is the southernmost constellation in the sky. It’s name is Latin and means table. The name was given by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. Originally, it was called Mons Mensae. This means Table Mountain, the famous mountain in South Africa. This is where Lacaille was when he created this constellation. Mensa is small, ranking 75th with only 153 square degrees in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere.
Monoceros named after the fantasy animal the unicorn. This constellation was created by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius after gathering information from Dutch navigators in the 17th century. Monoceros is named quite appropriately. It is a Latin name, and the constellation looks like an animal with a horn. You can spot the unicorn star sign in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere where it covers 482 square degrees. This makes it the 35th largest constellation.
Orion. This is one of the most famous constellations already known in ancient times. Orion is very important in Egyptian religion. It was long thought that the pyramids of Giza were built to reflect the position of the stars inside this constellation. Orion is so well known for such a long time because it is a very bright star sign; it has 2 of the 10 brightest stars in the sky. You can find this constellation in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. Orion is said to be a hunter, chasing the hare Lepus.
Perseus is a Greek hero in ancient mythology. This constellation is located next to Andromeda, the Ethiopian princess who he saved from getting killed by a whale. Her parents were sacrificing her to atone for her mother’s vanity. Perseus then married Andromeda and they lived happily ever after. You can find Perseus in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. It’s a large constellation that occupies 615 square degrees. Perseus was first catalogued by Ptolemy.
Phoenix is a mythical bird, said to have risen from its own ashes. Mythical or not, Phoenix wasn’t named and created until the late 16th century. It was Petrus Plancius who gave this constellation its name. You’ll have to focus on the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere if you want to spot Phoenix. There it covers an area of 469 square degrees, which makes it the 37th largest constellation. Phoenix contains HLX-1, which is thought to be a black hole.
Pyxis is a compass used on ships. This constellation was created by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. Originally, Pyxis was part of a huge constellation called Argo Navis. This star sign was created by the Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD and represented a mythical ship. De Lacaille thought it better to divide the ship into smaller constellations, using parts of a ship for their names.
Reticulum which is Latin for small net. This is not a net to go fishing with, it is rather a crosshair at a telescope used to measure distances and star positions. It was first called Rhombus, which is the name of the shape. The French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille changed its name into Reticulum in the 18th century. There are only 6 constellations smaller than Reticulum. You can find it in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere where it covers an area of 114 square degrees.
Taurus or bull in Latin. Taurus is one of the 12 zodiac constellations used for birth charts. Although Ptolemy, the Greco-Roman astronomer gave Taurus its Latin name in the 2nd century AD, the history of Taurus goes back to the Bronze Age. This makes Taurus one of the oldest constellations we know of. It is also quite big, it occupies 797 square degrees in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. There are 16 constellations larger that Taurus.
Triangulum is Latin for triangle. It was the famous Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy who gave this constellation its name in the second century AD. The three brightest stars in Triangulum form a triangular shape. The stars of this constellation cover an area of 132 square degrees in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere. This makes Triangulum the 78th largest star sign. Originally, it was called Deltoton, after the Greek letter Delta, which has a triangular shape.
Vela. Originally, this constellation was part of a much larger star sign called Argo Navis, the Argonauts’ ship. This was a constellation created by Ptolemy in the second century AD, but it was the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille who divided the ship into smaller star signs. All of these constellation are parts of a ship and Vela is Latin for sail. This star sign covers 500 square degrees in the second quadrant of the southern hemisphere, making it the 32nd largest constellation.
Volans means flying in Latin. The constellation Volans is linked with the flying fish that the Dutch navigators saw on their travels in the late 16th century. This constellation was named by Petrus Plancius, the Dutch astronomer. It is a rather small star sign, ranking 76th with an area of 141 square degrees in the second quadrant of the southern hemisphere. Beta Volantis is the brightest star in Volans. It’ll take you 107 light years to get to this orange giant.
At Under Lucky Stars we make personal star charts of the constellations above a time and place chosen by you.