Canis Major is a recognizable constellation.
The greater dog as it is sometimes known appears with regularity in the nighttime sky.
It has many interesting facts and myths associated with it, making Canis Major a top topic for many lovers of stars.
Learn all about this constellation, starting with these important and interesting facts.
Canis Major Constellation Facts, Myth, Location and Stars
The Greater Dog constellation is known by many and has been since the second century.
Associated with the sky in man cultures and areas from across the globe, this constellation is near Orion and helps guide us through the celestial sky at night.
Canis Major Constellation Location
Canis major is a constellation found in the southern sky. It is identified as residing 7 hours right of ascension and 20 degrees south in declination.
The ascension is the night sky equivalent of longitude and is divided into 24 hours, each making up 15 degrees of the 360 total in the sphere that makes up the globe.
Declination is the celestial equivalent of latitude, like the Earth’s equator.
It is also identified as being in the SQ2 of the southern quadrant.
Canis Major Constellation Mythology and Lore
There are many stories and legends that are associated with the greater dog constellation.
The lore Crosses cultures from the Babylonians to the Greeks and Romans, to the Arabic peoples, all these cultures had stories that explained the appearance of this dog in the sky.
The most well-known story is that of Canis Major being one of the hunting dogs of Orion.
Orion and his dog were pursuing Lepus the Hare, another nearby constellation.
It is also said that the dog was helping Orion to fight the Bull Taurus.
Yet another nearby constellation and a tale of Orion’s great strength and courage to fight and best the massive beast.
Other stories about this constellation come from the Babylonians who identify this not as a dog, but arrow that was being fired from the Bow of Ishtar, one of their deities.
It is also said to represent the dog Laelaps, given to Europa as a watchdog to protect her from the god Jupiter by the Romans.
The dog was supposed to prevent her abduction and yet still failed when Jupiter transformed into a bull and ran off with Europa.
Oddly enough, another version of the story that is similar in that there is a Bull that is in need of being besting, one way or another.
The ancient Egyptians actually associated this star with the annual flooding of the Nile river.
They felt that the rising and falling of the star mimicked the rising and falling of the river that was their life source and so the constellation, mainly the start Sirius, would bring the flood and then take them again when the time was right.
This is also known to be part of the Vermillion Bird constellation recognized in Chinese astronomy and well as the watchdog by the Arabic astronomers of the medieval era.
Canis Major Constellation Stars
The constellation Canis Major is associated with 10 named stars.
They are Adhera, Sirius, Wezen, Aludra, Amaduha, Atukoraka, Muliphein, Omicron, Unurgurite, and Furud.
The brightest of these is the Aldura star and the star Adhera emits an extreme amount of ultraviolet rays that make up a large portion of what we on Earth receive from sources other than the sun.
The most famous is the dog star, Sirius.
The Dog Star, Sirius
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky due to its proximity to the Earth.
Sirius first appears in August, when the days began to get hot and long.
It’s appearance is associated with the “dog days of summer” due to the fact that they are recognized as starting around the same time that Sirius appears.
It is easily seen after this time until around March, though it is best seen from late January through February.
Binary Nature and Sirius B
Sirius is a star that is considered to be binary in nature meaning that it has a companion, known as Sirius B.
Sirius B is a white dwarf that long ago died in the galaxy.
It is also known as the pup and only emits any light because of the leftover heat from the star’s explosion.
This makes its light very faint indeed.
Where Canis Major Can Be Seen
Canis Major can be seen in the northern and southern hemispheres, but mostly appears in the southern skies.
You can see it if you are between the latitudes of 60 degrees positive and ninety degrees negative.
It is in the Southern Hemisphere through the mid-latitudes and in the Northern Hemisphere it is seen sitting low on the southern horizon of the sky.
The greater dog constellation is a small to mid-sized constellation.
It covers 380 square degrees of the sky making it the 43rd constellation by size.
Canis Major is also one of Ptolemy’s original 48 constellations and the 88 modern constellations that are recognized by the IAU, the International Astronomical Unit, recognized as the main governing body of celestial bodies and phenomena.
Canis Dwarf Galaxy
This galaxy is one that is considered part of our local galaxy classification due to it’s proximity to the Earth.
Another galaxy in this class is the Milky Way galaxy, which most of us can recognize.
This galaxy is named for the constellation due to the appearance that it is emerging from with the greater dog.
It was discovered in 2003 by an international team of scientists and is a mere 25000 light-years from the Milky Way.
It is slowly being interrupted by the immense gravitational pull of the Milky Way which is about 100 times as massive as the Dwarf Galaxy.
Canis Major, or the Greater Dog, is a constellation that almost everyone has heard of due to the association with both Orion’s Belt as well as the fact that is contains the brightest star that we can see from Earth.
This canine will spend eternity as a member of the celestial bodies circling above us, perhaps protecting us from some greater unknown we have yet to figure out.
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