CMa - Canis Major the Big Dog

Legend for constellation star maps, IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), cc-by

Intro and Visual description

South of Orion in the Winter Hexagon, near the horizon. Sirius is the brightest star in the sky.

Canis Major is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.

One of Orion’s two faithful dogs, following him across the sky. Sirius, called Sothis or the Dog Star, was significant in Egyptian mythology, and its heliacal rising signalled the start of the Egyptian year in the third millenium B.C. This constellation has been associated with several mythical dogs, including the hound of Actaeon.

Special Stars

Sirius takes its name from the Greek work for Scorching. In Middle Earth, Sirius was known as Helluin (ice-blue), Nielluin, Niellune, or Nierninwa (tear- or bee-blue). (Rachel Magruder)


Star Clusters

M41 (Galactic cluster), mag. 5.0.



Constellation Info

Abbr: CMa

Genitive: Canis Majoris

Size: 43 of 88

RA: 7 hours

Evening culmination (9 pm): February

Midnight Culmination: January

Decl: -20 degrees

Entirely visible from: S of 57° latitude

Partially visible from: between 57° and 79° latitude

Not visible at all from: N of 79° latitude


Bordering constellations:

Constellation - Names

Arabic: الكلب الأكبر

Chinese: 大犬座

English: Big Dog

French: Grand Chien

German: Großer Hund

Greek: Κύων Μέγας

Hebrew: כלב גדול

Italian: Cane Maggiore

Latin: Canis Major

Russian: Большой Пёс

Spanish: Perro Mayor

Related Objects

Related Asterisms