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Capricornus Constellations Astronomy Information

Capricornus is a familiar name for those who are fans of fantasy stories – its name signifies goat horn in Latin, and is among the Zodiac signs. In the zodiac signs, it is referred to as a half-fish, half-goat configuration – much imagination needed here!! Ptolemy entered this constellation in his list of 48 constellations, and it still counts as one of the members of the modern 88 constellations. This constellation is bordered by its other counterparts:  AquilaSagittariusMicroscopiumPiscis Austrinus, and Aquarius. It is sea-related somehow due to its name, and mainly because it is surrounded by other sea-related constellations: Aquarius, Pisces, and Eridanus. Thus the area these constellations are residing in is simply called Sea.

The image credits go to IAU.

The constellation’s alpha star is among the visible stars to naked eye belonging to Capricornus. Generally, this is a very dim constellation. δ Capricorni (Deneb Algedi, or the tail of the goat in Arabic) is the brightest star of this constellation, and it is relatively close to us (only 39 light-years away from Earth). Speaking of its type, it is a Beta Lyrae variable star (a type of eclipsing binary).

There are also multiple stars in this constellation, such as α Capricorni. It is composed of two main stars which are distinguishable by eye and they themselves are multiple stars. β Capricorni is a double star which are distinguishable in binoculars.  γ Capricorni is also visible to naked eye, and is a white-hued giant star located 139 light-years from Earth.

Among the deep-sky objects, there is M30 which is a famous globular cluster, and a group of galaxies called  HCG 87. This is a group of (at least) three galaxies (one elliptical galaxy and two spiral galaxies, one face-on and the other edge-on) lying 400 million light-years from Earth.

HCG 87 containing two spiral galaxies and one elliptical galaxy. The image credits go to NASA.