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Image and text ©2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images.
In the picture above the image covers 70.6 x 56.5 degrees.
Image centre is approximately 09h 42m.8, -72d 12m ((J2000).
Apus, Chamaeleon, Dorado, Mensa, Musca, Octans, Pictor and Volans
This part of the sky was mostly uncharted by Europeans until the 17th and 18th centuries, so many of the constellations in the southern (lower) half of the image around the south celestial pole are relatively modern constructions without mythlogical connotations. Many are also quite insignificant, and the more or less complete constellations visible here are listed below, with hotlinks to those with their own pages.
Apus, Chameleon Mensa and Octans are all on the same page, while Centaurus, Circinus, Crux and Musca, Carina, Puppis, Triangulum Australae, Vela and Volans have their own pages. A portrait-format version of this is available here, and it includes all of Carina and most of Pictor.
Apus, the Bird of Paradise, first appeared in the star charts of the German astronomer Johann Bayer in 1603. It contains no named stars
Chameleon, a type of lizard. The stars here are even fainter than those in Apus.
Mensa, the constellation was invented by de Lacaille to commemorate his visit to the Cape of Good Hope in the 1750s. The original name was Mons Mensa, Latin for Table Mountain. Its northern border crosses part of the Large Magellanic Cloud, possibly reminding Lacaille of the recurrent cloud over the mountain as seen from Cape Town.
Musca, the Fly, is another undistinguished constellation that first appeared on Bayer's star charts in 1603.
Pictor, the Painter's Easle was constructed in the vivid imagination of the Abbé Lacaille. Most of the constellation appears on this photograph; none of it is visually distinctive, but the brilliant star Canopus in the adjoining constellation of Carina is a good pointer.
Octans, the Octant (a forerunner of the sextant) is another Enlightenment-period instrument portrayed on the sky by Lacaille. The constellation is quite large but totally undistinguished. Its only notable feature is the South Celestial Pole, with is marked (within a degree or so) by the faint star σ Octantis. Volans, the Flying Fish (originally Pisces Volans) is another Beyer grouping of faint southern stars. It adjoins another fishy Bayer constellation:
Dorado, the Goldfish. Though there are no significant stars in Dorado it embraces most of the Large Magellanic Cloud, the closest galaxy to our own. To the unaided eye the LMC appears as a detached part of the Milky Way.
The main named stars in this image are: (Greek alphabet)
Acrux (α Cru), Avior (ε Car), Canopus (α Car), Gacrux (γ Cru), Hadar (Agena, β Cen), Miaplacidus (β Car), Mimosa (Becrux, β Cru), Rigil Kentaurus (Toliman, α Cen), Scutulum (or Aspidiske, ι Car).
Related images (other sources)
UKS 14 The Large Magellanic Cloud
AAT 6 Star trails around the South Celestial Pole.
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