Constellation Carina: characteristics and stellar composition

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Constellation Carina: characteristics and stellar composition
Constellation Carina: characteristics and stellar composition

Kiel is a constellation that occupies a section of the southern hemisphere of the sky with an area of ​​494.2 square degrees. The full visibility coordinates are located south of 15 ° north latitude, which is why the constellation cannot be detected from the territory of Russia. The Latin name for this star cluster is Carinae (short for Car), which literally translates as the keel of a ship.

Historical background

Earlier, Kiel was not an independent constellation, but was part of the Argo Navis or Ship Argo designated by Ptolemy. The name was given on the basis of an ancient Greek myth describing the voyage of Jason with a team of Argonauts in search of the Golden Fleece.

Until the middle of the 18th century, Argo Navis remained part of the astronomical map, until in 1752 Louis de Lacaille divided it into three constellations: Carina, Corma and Sails. Compass was later added to this group.

General characteristics and photos of the constellation Carina

Kiel is the 34th largest constellation. It is located in the second quadrant of the southern hemisphere and is visible at latitudes from 15 to 90 degrees, the valueascent ranges from 6h00mto 11h15m.

photo of the constellation Carina

The constellation has 206 luminaries visible to the naked eye, several nebulae and various clusters. Notable astronomical objects are:

  • stars Canopus, Aveor, epsilon (Eta) and upsilon;
  • Homunculus Nebula, Keyhole and NGC 3372;
  • O-type stars;
  • globular cluster NGC 2808;
  • Meteor showers Alpha and Eta Carinids;
  • open cluster NGC 3532;
  • Southern Pleiades;
  • Diamond Cluster (NGC 2516).

The Southern Pleiades, otherwise known as the Carina Theta Cluster, is visible to the naked eye and contains approximately 60 stars. NGC 2516 has about a hundred luminaries, among which the most significant objects are 2 red giants and 3 double stars. This cluster can be clearly seen even without the help of a telescope, for which it was called the Diamond.

The Milky Way passes through the northwestern part of Carina. The constellation itself looks like a chaotic cluster that does not have a specific geometric shape, but within it there are asterisms with an ordered arrangement of objects.

Location in the firmament

Kiel's position in the sky relative to the horizon changes throughout the year. The constellation reaches its highest point in winter, then at night it can be seen completely. In summer, the Carina falls very low, partially setting below the horizon so that after midnight the main star, Canopus, is not visible. However, inlatitudes south of 37 degrees, it never hides.

Constellations surrounding Carina include:

  • Centaurus;
  • Fly;
  • Chameleon;
  • Feed;
  • Sail;
  • Painter.

The easiest way to find Keel in the sky is by Canopus, a star lying below the 37th parallel of the Northern Hemisphere. Two diamond-shaped asterisms can serve as additional landmarks. From them, you can determine the position of Carina in the event that the alpha star is not visible.

Main Stars

The brightest star in the constellation Carinae is HR 2326, otherwise known as Canopus. It is 310 light-years away from Earth and is a bright giant classified in the F0 (yellow-white) spectral class. This is the main star in the constellation Carina, which is still used in navigation, and not only sea, but also space. HR 2326 is assigned to the Scorpio-Centaurus OB-star association.

Photo of Canopus in the sky

Currently, Canopus ranks second in brightness in the entire sky and first in its southern part. The diameter of this star is 64 times larger than that of the Sun, its mass exceeds it by 8-9 times, and the radiation strength is 14 thousand. The surface temperature of Canopus reaches 7600 degrees Kelvin. The apparent magnitude of HR 2326 is -0.72, which is about half that of Sirius.

South of Canopus is the second brightest object of the constellation - Avior, which becomes visible starting from the 30th parallel of the Northern Hemisphere. It consists of two stars - an orange giant and a blue dwarf.An alternative name for Aviora is the epsilon of the constellation Carina.

binary system Avior

Another remarkable object of Carina is the two-star system Eta, which during the period of its maximum glow (1843) was the second brightest luminary in the sky, and now, due to attenuation, it is not visible to the naked eye at all, although its size is 100 times larger than the Sun. In China, this star is called the Altar of Heaven. Upsilon in the constellation Carina also consists of two stars - a white super-giant and a blue-white giant, which are part of one of the asterisms.

This keel

Kiel's beta star is called Myoplacidus and belongs to the spectral class A2 (white). This is one of the 6 brightest luminaries in this constellation, which, in addition to Canopus and Avior, also include HR 2326, &iota, θ and υ Car. The rest of the stars are much dimmer and on the verge of visibility. Eight luminaries with exoplanets have also been found in Carina. The trajectory of the geometric designation of the constellation passes through the main stars (alpha, beta, etc.)

main stars of Carina

Homunculus Nebula

The nebula was formed in 1842 due to the ejection of stellar material from the Eta system. However, the Homunculus became visible in the sky only at the beginning of the 20th century by the time it reached the size of 0.7 light years. This nebula is characterized by gas-dynamic instability, due to which it has a lumpy structure and constantly changes its shape.

Homunculus Nebula

The homunculus enters morethe large Carina Nebula, designated as NGC 3372. The latter includes several stars classified as O. These objects are 7500 light years away from our planet. The Carina Nebula is surrounded by several open star clusters.


The constellation Carina includes 2 asterisms:

  • Diamond cross - includes 4 bright stars (beta, theta, upsilon and omega) forming an almost regular rhombus.
  • False cross - borders on Sails and contains 4 objects belonging to these constellations.

Because of their resemblance to the Southern Cross, these asterisms have often caused navigational errors for inexperienced navigators crossing the equatorial line.

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