January

  • Tau - Taurus the Bull

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    17 of 88

    Intro and Visual description

    Taurus the Bull is easily spotted. Its head is the Hyades, a V-shaped cluster of stars. His horns point outward from the V. Aldebaran is the red eye of the Bull as he charges down upon us.

    Taurus is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.
    Biblical references: The Pleiades are mentioned in Job 9:7-9 and Job 38:31-33, and Amos 5:8. Other constellations alluded to in the Bible are Ursa Major and Orion.

    Skylore and Literature

  • Cae - Caelum the Engraver's Chisel

    Size

    81 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    A tiny, faint constellation, located south of Orion, barely visible from 35 degrees north latitude in December and January.

    Created by Lacaille in 1752, as one of 14 constellations in the far southern sky named after scientific instruments. One of 17 constellations created by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756. ???

     

     

  • Cnc - Cancer the Crab

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    31 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    A faint constellation between Gemini and Leo.

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

    Sent by Juno to kill Hercules, who squashed it with his foot.

     

    Asterisms

    Asses and the Manger

     

    Star Clusters

    M44, Praesepe or Beehive (Galactic cluster), mag. 3.9.
    M67 (Galactic cluster), mag. 6.1.

     

    Galaxies

    Look with binoculars for the Beehive star cluster, faintly visible to the naked eye.

     

     

     

     

  • CMa - Canis Major the Big Dog

    Size

    43 of 88

    Regions

    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

  • CMi - Canis Minor the Little Dog

    Size

    71 of 88

    Intro and Visual description

    Procyon, the brightest star of Canis Minor, serves as the vertex of the Winter Hexagon lying between Gemini and Sirius.

    Canis Minor is included in the ancient star catalog of Ptolemy, but was not present in the catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos or Aratos of Soli.

     

    Skylore and Literature:  One of Orion’s two faithful dogs, following him in the sky.

     

    Asterism: Winter Hexagon

     

     

  • Car - Carina the Keel of Argo Navis

    Size

    34 of 88

    Intro and Visual description

    Locate Canopus by drawing a line from the easternmost star of Orion’s belt down through Rigel, Orion’s left foot. Canopus lies about twice as far from Orion’s belt as Sirius.

    One of 17 constellations created by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756. Originally part of Argo Navis, which was included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.

     

    Asterisms:  

  • Col - Columba the Dove

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    54 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Below Orion in the far south, Columba is tiny, with few bright stars. Barely visible in December from 35 degrees north latitude.

    Created by Petrus Plancius in 1592.

     

    Skylore and Literature

    Usually regarded as the dove sent from the Ark by Noah.
    The Argonauts sent a dove to ensure their safe passage between the Clashing Rocks.

     

     

  • Dor - Dorado the Swordfish

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    72 of 88

    Intro and Visual description

    Dorado the Swordfish is a small and obscure but very interesting constellation. It contains the Large Magellenic Cloud (LMC) and the only recent naked-eye supernova. In addition, the south ecliptic pole is located about where the "eye" of the fish would be. The Large and Small Magellenic Clouds are bright enough to be visible even in Moonlight.

    One of the eleven southern constellations created by Pieter Dirksz Keyser and Frederick de Houtman in 1596. These were published in Plate Aaa of Johann Bayer, Uranographia (1603).

     

    Special Stars

  • Gem - Gemini the Twins

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    30 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Look for the two bright stars, Castor and Pollux, which form one vertex of the Winter Hexagon. Castor is closer to Capella, in Auriga on the north; and Pollus is closer to Procyon, in Canis Minor on the south. Cancer and Leo lie to the east.

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

     

  • Lep - Lepus the Hare

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    51 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

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

    Star Clusters

    M79 (Globular cluster), mag. 7.5.