December

  • 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

  • Ari - Aries the Ram

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    39 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    A small zodiac constellation with only two easily visible stars.

     

    Skylore and Literature:  A ram with Golden Fleece, which could fly through the air.

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

     

  • Aur - Auriga the Charioteer

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    21 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    Lies in the Milky Way, with many binocular and telescopic objects, between Gemini, Perseus and Taurus, at the top of the Winter Hexagon. Auriga looks like a pentagon, if one includes Alnath, which is also the tip of one of Taurus the Bull’s horns (Alnath was once Gamma-Aurigae, but is now officially Beta-Tauri).

  • 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. ???

     

     

  • Cet - Cetus the Sea Monster or Whale

    Size

    4 of 88

    Intro and Visual description

    South of Aries and Pisces, one of the largest constellations. Trace to the second-magnitude star Beta-Ceti (Diphda, near the flukes) by following a line southward from Alpheratz (the corner of Pegasus and Andromeda) through gamma-Pegasi, across Pisces and Cetus.

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

     

    Skylore and Literature:  Killed by Perseus as he was attempting to devour Andromeda. Movies: Clash of the Titans; Internet movie database.

     

    Special Stars

  • 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

  • Eri - Eridanus the River

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    6 of 88

    Intro and Visual description

    The River Eridanus flows northward (like the Nile) from the bright star Achernar (Arabic for "End of the River") to Kursa (beta-Eridani) near Rigel in Orion. Eridanus is the longest (not largest) constellation, spanning over 50 degrees of declination, and its many faint stars glitter like reflecting light off the surface of its waves.

    The Nile to the Egyptians, the Po to Italians, and the Yellow River to the Chinese.
    The ancient astronomer Hipparchos (ca. 150 B.C.) called Eridanus the "River of Orion."

  • For - Fornax the Furnace

    IAU Constellation

    Size

    41 of 88

    Regions

    Intro and Visual description

    A small constellation of faint stars nestled within a bend of the river (Eridanus), low in the south.

    One of 17 constellations created by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756. Created by Lacaille in 1752 as one of 14 constellations named after scientific instruments. He called it Fornax Chemica, the Chemical Furnace. Bode referred to it as Apparatus Chemicus.

     

    Special Stars

    Alpha-Fornacis is only magnitude 3.9. Declination: -29 degrees south.

     

    Galaxies