Pictor Constellation: Facts & Myths

Pictor is one of the 88 constellations that can be found in the sky, it comes at the 59th spot occupying 247 square degrees of the area. It like the Phoenix constellation is also located in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere at the latitude of +26 degrees and -90 degrees.  In Latin, Pictor means painter and is found between the Canopus which is a bright star in Carina and the Large Magellanic cloud in Mensa and Dorado. Pictor has some neighboring constellations like the Antila, Caelum, Circinus, Fornax, Horologium, Mensa, Microscopium, Norma, Octans, sculptor, Telescopium, and Reticulum.

Deep sky objects

It has no Messier objects but it has some deep sky objects like:

  • NGC 1705- This is a dwarf galaxy which is irregular and is some 17 million light-years away. This has a magnitude of 12.8 and is deep blue in color. It is a 13 million old galaxy that contains a number of stars young and old and is also a great way of studying the evolution of galaxies.
  • SPT-CL J0546-5345- This a huge galaxy cluster that is 7 billion light-years away and is approximately 13.7 billion years old. It is one of the biggest galaxy clusters that can be found and has almost 800 trillion stars.
  • Pictor A- This a radio galaxy that is 485 million light years away and has a massive black hole that sends out a jet of rays.


There is no such myth or story attached with Pictor constellation, all we know is that this constellation was introduced by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in 1765, it was known as chevalet et la palette which means easel and palette. This name was later shortened to Pictor in 1845.

The main stars

  • Alpha Pictoris- This is one of the brightest stars in Pictor and is a white dwarf star which is located 97 light years distant from the sun. It has a visual magnitude of 3.27 and is some 660 million years old. It is also 13 times more luminous. It is a fast spinner as it can rotate at a velocity of 206 km. On the mercury, it is known as the South Pole star.
  • Beta Pictoris- This is Pictor constellation’s second brightest star, it is also a white dwarf star that is some 63.4 light years distant and at a magnitude of 3.86. This star is located to the west of the star Canopus and the constellation Carina. This star has a mass that is 8 times more than Jupiter.
  • Gamma Pictoris- The third brightest star of the constellation; it is an orange giant star that has an apparent magnitude of 4.50 and is 174 light years distant. This star is some 11 times bigger than the sun.
  • Delta Pictoris- This star has an apparent magnitude of 4.72 and is some 1655 light years away from the sun. This star is known to be a beta Lyrae variable that is quite variable.
  • Kapteyn’s star- The kapteyn’s star is some 12.76 light years distant from the earth and is it can be easily seen from a small telescope. This star is cooler than the sun and this star belongs to the stellar class.
  • AB Pictoris- This is the main orange sequence star that has a magnitude of 9.16 and is some 150 years distant from the sun. The AB Pictoris in mass is 13.5 times more than Jupiter.

Apart from these stars, there is the HD 40307 which have six planets in its orbit and the HD 41004, this is a multiple star system.