Capricorn is one of the smallest of the constellations of the zodiac, occupying only about 1% of the night sky.
However, it has had huge importance throughout history and as a source of myth.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most interesting facts about the constellation Capricornus.
Capricorn Constellation Facts, Myth, Location and Stars
1. Capricorn is one of the faintest constellations.
Capricorn is the 40th largest constellation, covering 413 degrees of the sky.
It is also one of the faintest. The only star in Capricorn that is brighter than magnitude 3 is its brightest: Delta Capricorni, also known as Deneb Algedi.
It’s not the easiest constellation to see with the naked eye, but it does have a long history.
Capricorn was observed more than 2000 years ago by astrologers from Babylon, Sumeria, and China.
Even though it is hard to see, people have been looking at it and dreaming about it for a long time.
2. The Capricorn myth dates back to the Babylonians and Sumerians.
Capricorn is called the “goat fish.”
It is shown as a goat with the body of a fish.
They were the first to draw this shape into the night sky using the stars.
The Sumerians called their goat fish constellation “suhur mash shah,” and the Babylonians called it “mul suhur mas.”
Capricorn is also one of the oldest modern constellations.
It was described by the Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy in his text Almagest, written in the 2nd century.
3. The God Pan is associated with Capricorn
The Greeks associated Capricorn with Pan.
He is typically shown as a creature with the head of a goat, a human torso with arms, and the lower body of a goat.
Pan is the Greek god of the wild, and he helped the other gods out several times.
This won him a permanent place in the sky as a constellation.
During the war between the gods and the titans, he helped the gods by blowing his conch shell to sound the alarm.
He also alerts them that one of the titans, Gaia, sent the monster Typhon after them. He helped them transform into animals to hide.
This story is probably mixed with the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian stories of the goat fish.
In the Greek version of the story, Pan warns the other gods to transform into animals, but he is so busy helping them that he barely has time to escape when the monster arrives.
He dives into the Nile river and transforms the lower body of the monster following him into a fish so that Zeus can destroy him.
3. Capricorn has 5 stars with planets around them.
Capricorn has 11 main stars that form the constellation.
You can see up to 91 stars in that area of the sky on a very clear night, with the naked eye.
When you are using a telescope, you can see more than 900 stars in Capricorn.
There are 5 different stars with planets orbiting around them in Capricorn that we know of. 16 extrasolar planets have been identified.
4. Capricorn is located in the 4th quadrant of the southern hemisphere.
- Right Ascension: 20 hours 06 minutes 46 seconds to 21 hours 59 minutes 04 seconds
- Declination: -8.4043999o to -27.6914144o
- Visible: +60o and -90o
One of the easiest ways to find Capricorn with the naked eye is to look for Sagittarius first.
Sagittarius is brighter and easier to find, and Capricorn is right next to it.
If you are north of the equator, you’ll be looking at the southern skies.
If you are south of the equator, you’ll be looking at the northern skies.
Capricorn is right along the ecliptic – a line that traces the movement of the sun across the sky during the day.
5. The best time and place to see Capricorn is 9 pm in September.
That is when it will be directly overhead.
The worst time to see Capricorn is during January, February, and March.
Capricorn is invisible during those months because it passes behind the sun.
6. Capricorn has 1 Messier object
The constellation Capricornus includes many interesting deep space objects.
One of these is M30, a Messier object. It is a globular cluster of stars with a magnitude of 7.5.
These stars begin at about 30,000 light-years away and you can see them trail away to the north.
You can also see galaxy groups like HCG 87, a swirling mix of at least 3 galaxies that is approximately 400 million light-years away.
7. There are 5 meteor showers associated with Capricorn:
The Alpha Capricornids, Chi Capricornids, Sigma Capricornids, Tau Capricornids, and the Capricornids-Sagittariids.
8. Capricorn has some notable stars:
There are more than 900 different stars in Capricorn – infinitely more when you consider the galaxies that are beyond our ability to see.
Here are some of the closest and most interesting to us right now:
– Deneb Algedi: Also called Delta Capricorni, is the brightest star in the constellation. It is a binary star system made up of two different suns. Delta Capricorni A is a white giant star and Delta Capricorni B is a G- star type. Together, they are 8.5 times brighter than our sun.
– Dabih: This star system is also called Beta Capricorni, and is located 328 light-years away. The two-star systems – Dabih Major and Dabih Minor – are both composed of more stars. Dabih has a magnitude of 3.05.
– Algiedi: Another star system that is composed of star systems, Algiedi forms an optical star that includes Algiedi and Prima Giedi, both of which are composed of other stars. Algiedi is closer to us at 100 light-years away, but as bright as alpha or beta Capricornus.
The Goat Fish Constellation – Capricornus
You can find this blunt, arrowhead-shaped constellation in the 4th quadrant of the southern hemisphere, anytime except January, February, or March.
The best time is in September when it is directly overhead.
There is some interesting history and mythology behind the goat fish – Capricorn.
There is also some interesting science, as we learn more about the galaxies in distant space within this constellation.
You can check it yourself by tracing the ecliptic line, or finding Sagittarius and following it over to Capricorn.
It’s one of the faintest constellations in the night sky but has a charm, character, and history all its own.
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