Octans Constellation: Facts & Myths

Octans is a constellation which is located in the southern hemisphere. It is the one which was named after octant, a popular navigational instrument. This was also introduced by famous French astronomer called Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. If you will have a look, you will understand that is located on the south of celestial pole. This one is even circumpolar to the South Pole, which never sets below the horizon. It doesn’t have any of the brighter stars than the 4th magnitude or the deep sky objects which are brighter enough for the observers. It also contains star of southern pole called as the Sigma Octantis, which is located around degree away from the south celestial pole.

Octans: Map, Location, and Facts

The Octans is 50th constellation in the size, which occupies an area of the 291 square degrees. It lies in 4th quadrant of the southern hemisphere and can also be seen at the latitudes between +0 degree and -90 degrees. Some of the neighboring constellations are Tucana, Pavo, Indus, Hydrus, Chamaeleon, and Apus. This also belongs to Lacaille family of the constellation with the TelescopiumSculptorReticulumPictorMicroscopiumMensaHorologiumFornaxCircinusCaelum, and Antlia. It also includes 2 stars with the known planets and has no Messier objects. The bright star in the constellation is the Nu Octantis, with an apparent magnitude of around 3.76. There is none of the meteor shower associated with this constellation too.

The story about the Octans

As said, it was created by the Nicolas Louis in the year 1752. There are none of the myths associated with this Octans constellation because it is located far away from the south. He created it out of the dim circumpolar stars and named originally as the I’Octans de Reflexion or even reflecting octant that was a precursor to the modern sextant. This was also called as the Octans Hadleianus after the John Hadley who is an English mathematician that invented octant in the year 1730. When he created this, Lacaille moved some of the stars from neighboring constellation called Hydrus.

Visibility and recognized constellation

The constellation called Octans is visible at the latitudes south of the equator. It is circumpolar and visible for all night long. It is small constellation with a complete area of around 291 square degrees. This rank is one which is 50th in the size among 88 constellations in the night sky. It is also bordered by constellation known as TucanaPavoMensaIndusHydrusApus and Chamaeleon. It includes the south celestial pole too. It is one of those 14 constellations which is the southernmost of the 88 recognized constellation. The brightest star in the southern sky is the Nu Octantis which is orange, giant that is located 69 light years from the Earth and with an apparent magnitude of around 3.76.

Space objects

Another one is Polaris Australis which marks south celestial pole. The complete constellation is faint rather and unlike the northern counterpart Polaris in the Ursa Major, which is not much use for the navigational purposes. Octans don’t include any of the space objects which can be notable and worth seeing outside the solar system with exception of the open cluster called as the Melotte 227 and the pair of these overlapping galaxies known as the NGC 6438A and NGC6438. Nevertheless, all these deep sky objects are much difficult to see and also fainter for resolving galaxy 2673, which is NGC object close to the southern celestial pole and was named as the Nebula Polarissima Australis by the John Herschel. You can learn more about this constellation online.