Phoenix Constellation: Facts & Myths

The phoenix constellation as we can judge from the name itself has been named after the mythological birth phoenix. This constellation is relatively smaller and is known to have been introduced by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius. The phoenix constellation can be seen from the Australian and the South African continents especially during the summers in the Southern Hemisphere. Phoenix being the 37th constellation contains a number of sky objects like the cluster of galaxies, the Robert’s quartet and the black hole candidate HLX-1.  Being the 37th constellation in terms of size, the phoenix is known to occupy an area of 469 square degrees. It is located in the southern hemisphere’s 1st quadrant and has Grus, Fornax, Hydrus, sculptor, Tucana and Eridanus as the neighbouring constellations.

The myth

Phoenix means rebirth and it is a symbol of it, As such phoenix constellation has no myth attached to it, but it is known to immolate itself after every 500 years and then after it has been consumed by the flames, it would be born again from the ashes.

Stars and the meteor shower

This constellation receives two meteor showers out of which the most famous is the phoenicids, which takes place on the 5th of December every year. The other meteor shower is known as the July Phoenicid which is a minor shower and is at its peak on the 14th of July.  Phoenix is known to contain a number of stars out of which 5 stars have planets. Some of the principal as well as important stars of phoenix are:

  • Ankaa- The Ankaa also known as the Alpha Phoenicis is the brightest star of the constellation. This is a giant orange star that is 77 years from the solar system. It is also sometimes known as the Nair al- Zaurak (the bright stars of the skiff). It is a binary system in which stars orbit around each other once in 10.5 years.
  • Beta Phoenicis- This is the second brightest star of the constellation, with a magnitude of 3.32 and is some 198 light years distant from the solar system.
  • Gamma Phoenicis- This is a red giant star that is 235 light years away and has a visual magnitude of 3.41, it is also a variable star with variations from 3.39 and 3.49.
  • Kappa Phoenicis- This star is quite close to Ankaa and is apparently has a magnitude of 3.90; it is also 77 light years distant from the sun.
  • Zeta Phoenicis- This four star system, that is apparently 300 light years distant. It ha s a magnitude of 7.2 and 8.2.
  • Nu Phoenicis- This star is somewhat similar to the sun and is quite huge as well as laminated.
  • Gliese 915- This is a degenerated star that is some 26.7 years away from the solar system. It has a magnitude of 12.76 visually.
  • HE0107-5240- The HE0107-5240 star is known to be one of the metal poor stars that can be found in the Milky Way, its low metallicity is a proof that it is a population II star. This star has a magnitude of 15.86 and is 36,000 light years away. The stars with low in metal are known to be population II stars while those with no metallicity are known to belong to population III.
  • SX Phoenicis- It is a variable star and belongs to the spectral classes. The SX Phoenicis is known to be low in metallicity as compared to the sun and is high in velocity.

Phoenix being relatively small constellation in terms of size has a number of stars that are unique in their own way.