Category Archives: All 88 Star Constellations Astronomy Information

All 88 Star Constellations Astronomy Information

Coma Berenices Star Constellations Astronomy Information

Coma Berenices means Berenice’s Hair in Latin, referring to the Queen Berenice II of Egypt. The main stars of the constellation are  Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Comae Berenices among which Beta is the brightest. Gamma Comae Berenices (15 Comae Berenices) lies 169 light-years from Earth and is an orange-hued giant star. The rich galaxy cluster, Coma Cluster, is located in this constellation. This is a whole another world and I advise you to read about this cluster here. Fun Fact: it was after observing Coma Cluster that Fritz Zwicky came up with the idea of dark matter – or that galaxies contain more mass than their visible, measurable mass. The giant, low surface brightness galaxy Malin 1 resides in this constellation. FK Comae Berenices is a variable star of the constellation and the Supernova SN 1940B which is the first type II supernova was observed in Coma Berenices.

The image credits go to IAU.

For the multiple stars residing in the constellation, we have  21 Comae Berenices which is a close binary.  Coma Cluster is known to have eight spectroscopic binaries so far. The constellation itself has over thirty double stars, over 200 variable stars, and seven eclipsing binaries named CCDDEKRWRZSS, and UX Comae Berenices. HD 108874  and WASP-56 are the two stars hosting planets in this constellation. Coma Berenices also owns three globular clusters: M53 (NGC 5024), NGC 4147, and NGC 5053.

Due to being a part of Coma and Leo clusters and Virgo cluster, Coma Berenices contains a large number of galaxies. Some large elliptical galaxies such as NGC 4874 and NGC 4889 also reside in this constellation. The black hole at the center of NCG 4889 is one of the most massive black holes ever known (21 billion solar masses).  NGC 4921 is the brightest spiral galaxy of the constellation. Here we only name some of these galaxies which are more particular in features.

 NGC 4921 captured by HST.

One of the interesting galaxies of this constellation is Mice galaxies located 300 million light-years from Earth which is composed of interacting galaxies. This encounter resulted in triggering star formation in both galaxies involved with long tails of dust, stars, and gas.

Mice galaxies captured by Hubble Space Telescope.

M85 (NGC 4382) is a lenticular/elliptical galaxy belonging to Virgo cluster, and it is interacting with the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394.

NGC 4394 is a barred spiral galaxy (55 million light-years from Earth, located in the Virgo Cluster). The image credits go to ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope.

M88 is another spiral galaxy belonging to Virgo cluster. M91 is a barred spiral galaxy of this cluster, and M98 is an elongated spiral galaxy of this cluster. M99 and M100 are two other spiral galaxies residing in this cluster.

M88. The image credits go to ESA/NASA Hubble Space Telescope.
M91, a barred spiral galaxy captured by Hubble Space Telescope.
M99 captured at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter.
M100 captured by ESO/VLT.

M64 is one of the most beautiful galaxies of Coma Berenices, which is also called the Black Eye Galaxy due to its long, dark dust lane covering most of it.

M64 or the black eye galaxy. Image credits go to NASA.

NGC 4314 is another beautiful galaxy (a barred spiral galaxy) located in Coma Berenices. NGC 4414 is, on the other hand, an unbarred spiral galaxy.

NGC 4314 captured by ESA/NASA HST.
NGC 4414, an unbarred spiral galaxy captured by ESA/NASA HST.

Musca Start Constellations Astronomy Information

Musca (fly in Latin), is a small constellation. The stars, namely, are  AlphaGamma, Beta,  Zeta2, and (probably) Eta the Muscae, plus HD 100546. The last star contains a debris disk, and another object which can be either a big planet or a brown dwarf. Among its multiple stellar systems, Theta Muscae is a triple system, and TU Muscae and  GQ Muscae are two binary stars. R Muscae and S Muscae are two classical Cepheid variables. GR Muscae is an X-ray source composed of a neutron star and another star. The three stars that host exoplanets in this constellation are  HD 111232 (orbited by a planet of 6.8 Jupiter masses),  HD 112410 (has a planet of 9.2 Jupiter masses), and HD 100546 (a blue-white Herbig Ae/Be star).

Image credits go to IAU.

As for its deep-sky objects, there are the planetary nebulae NGC 5189,  IC 4191,  NGC 4071,  Coalsack Nebula, Dark Doodad Nebula, and Engraved Hourglass Nebula. There are also the globular clusters NGC 4833 and  NGC 4372.

Engraved Hourglass Nebula captured by ESA/NASA HST.
Dark Doodad Nebulae captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and 135 mm f/2L lens at f/4 and ISO 3200 on an Astrotrac equatorial mount.

NGC 5189 captured by ESA/NASA HST.

Boötes star Constellations Astronomy Information

The first interesting thing about this constellation is its name which is dervied from Βοώτης, Boōtēs that means ox-driver, or herdsman. This name is attributed to the patron of farmers or the god Enlil (the leader of Babylonian pantheon). Its shape, however, was also likened to a kite or ice cream cone. Boötes was also listed among the 48 constellation listed by Ptolemy and still makes the list among the 88 modern constellations.  Arcturus, an orange giant, and the fourth brightest star in the night sky. Epsilon Bootis is a colorful multiple star which is popular among amatuer astronomers.  Eta Boötis is a spectroscopic binary, nine times brighter than our Sun. Beta Boötis is a yellow giant, and Gamma Boötis is a white giant.

Delta Boötis is a wide double star, the primary star is a yellow giant and the secondary componet is a yellow main sequence star. Mu Boötis (Alkalurops) is a famous triple star (same as the other triple star Epsilon Boötis) located 121 light-years away from Earth. Epsilon Boötis is also called Izar (loincloth in Arabic) or Pulcherrima (most beautiful in Latin). Among other multiple stars located in this constellation, Xi Boötis is a quadruple star, Pi Boötis is a triple star, and Zeta Boötis is a triple star. Zeta Boötis contains a physical binary plus an optical companion to this binary system. 44 Boötis (i Boötis) is a yellow star to naked eye, and is a double variable star very close to Earth (42 light-years away). The orbital period of this double star is 220 years. ZZ Boötis is an eclipsing binary star system. T Boötis is a particular case, as it is a nova, and a nova is classified as a transient astronomical event. A nova is the sudden brightness of a star that fades away and there are a number of reasons behind this event. T Boötis was observed in the April of 1860, and was never observed again.

Boötes is not only home to many multiple stellar systems, but also stars hosting multiple planets or single planets. Wasp-14 is a F5V-type star hosting a curious exoplanet. WASP-14 b is one of the densest exoplnets discovered so far (7.341 MJ and 1.281 RJ) via transient method. Tau Boötis is a star in Boötes constellation which is orbited by a giant planet (with a period of 3.31 days and 5.95 Jupiter masses, thus this planet is a hot Jupiter) and has a companion GJ527B. HD 128311 hosts two planets, and  HD 132406 is a G0V star (like our Sun) hosting a gas giant discovered in 2007. WASP-23 also hosts one planet, and HD 131496 is a K0 star orbited by one planet. HD 132563 is a triple sytem with one component being a planet (this planet was discovered in 2011 by radial velocity method). Triple systems like HD 132563 which consist of one planet and two stars are rather rare (or not many of them has been confirmed yet) and are a hot topic in astronomy these days.

29 stars in total are visible to naked eye in night sky in Boötes constellation. Boötes is surrounded by Coma, Virgo, Canes Venatici, Hercules, and Ursa Major.

The deep sky objects of Boötes are plenty, among which are globular cluster NGC 5466. As of galaxies, NGC 5248 (Caldwell 45) is a spiral galaxy lying 50 million light-years away from Earth and is a member of Virgo galaxy cluster. NGC 5676 is another spiral galaxy located in Boötes.

NGC 5248 (Caldwell 45). The image credits go to wikimedia.

The image credits go to Liverpool Telescope.

NGC 5548 is a particular galaxy in this constellation, as it is a Seyfert galaxy. A Seyfert galaxy is a type of galaxy which has an active nucleus at the center (quasar-like center) with a high surface brightness. There is a supermassive black hole (or another dark, very massive object) at the center of this galaxy which amke its center appear so bright.

NGC 5548, which has a supermassive black hole at its center – the image credits go to ESA/NASA Hubble telescope. A clumpy gas stream is flowing outwards, blocking 90% of the X-ray emission of the supermassive black hole at the center. Benchamrks such as this system provide insights into how supermassive black holes interact with their host galaxies.

Boötes void is another particular feature of this constellation. 250-million-light-year in diameter, this huge space is devoid of any galaxies and it is 700 million light-years from Earth.  

Hydra Star Constellations Astronomy Information

Hydra (the sea serpent) constellation is the largest among all the 88 modern constellations, 1303 square degrees wide and 100 degrees long. Although large, it does not contain any particularly bright star of the night sky.  Alphard (an orange giant), is a moderately bright star, followed by  Gamma Hydrae (a yellow giant), and  Beta Hydrae (a blue-white star). Epsilon Hydrae is a bright binary star, and  27 Hydrae is a triple star. Among its variable stars, we can name  R Hydrae, U Hydrae (a semi-regular variable star), and  V Hydrae (home to two exoplanets). GJ 357 contains three exoplanets, including one super-earth (GJ 357 d) lying in the star’s habitable zone.

The image credits go to IAU.

The Hydra constellation contains some deep-sky objects, among which is the spiral galaxy M83 (Southern Pinwheel galaxy).  M68 is a globular cluster in the vicinity of this galaxy. Other globular clusters of the cluster are:  M68 (NGC 4590) and  NGC 5694. Planetary nebulae NGC 3242 and Abell 33 also belong to this constellation. Its open cluster is M48 (NGC 2548). NGC 3314 is a particular case as it is composed of two galaxies that are not interacting but seem that way. ESO 510-G13 is a beautiful warped spiral galaxy, located 150 million light-years from Earth. There is also an important elliptical galaxy residing in this constellation named NGC 4993 in which two neutron stars merged and gave rise to several electromagnetic sources such as  GW170817GRB 170817A, and SSS17a.

M83 captured by ESA/NASA HST.
Abell 33 captured by ESO’s VLT.
Warped galaxy captured by ESA/NASA HST.

NGC 3314 captured by ESA/NASA HST.

Fornax Star Constellations Astronomy Information

Fornax constellation was named for the first time by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1756, and its name signifies furnace in Latin. Its brightest stars are AlphaBeta, and Nu Fornacis (Alpha2 Canum Venaticorum variable which indicates the star’s strong magnetic field). Epsilon Fornacis is a binary star (located 104 light-years away from Earth), and Omega Fornacis is another binary star of the constellation (located 470 light-years away from Earth), while Kappa Fornacis is a triple star. There are also stars in this constellation that host planets: Lambda2 Fornacis (Sun-like star), HD 20868 (an orange dwarf), WASP-72 (a main-sequence star), HR 858 (hosts at least three planets), and HD 20781 and HD 20782 which are a Sun-like binary orbiting each other and each has a planet.

The image credits go to IAU.

NGC 1360 (Robin’s Egg Nebula) is a planetary nebula residing in the Fornax constellation. As for the constellation’s other deep-sky objects, there is NGC 1049 which is a globular cluster, NGC 1097 (Caldwell 67) barred spiral galaxy, and Fornax dwarf galaxy. Fornax cluster which is a vast space filled with galaxies is another world of and in itself and encourage the reader to read more about it here.

NGC 1097. The image credits go to ESO.
NGC 1360 (Robin’s Egg Nebula). The image credits go to the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter Schulman Telescope courtesy Adam Block.