Reticulum Constellation: Facts & Myths

The world of stars, planets, galaxies, meteors, and asteroids has always fascinated mankind. In early ages, men used the moon and stars to navigate their route, and even today they are used to explore and unravel the myth of the Universe. One such phenomena that humans have been fascinated with is the concept of constellations.

A constellation is a collection of stars that are grouped together to form a pattern, or a design which has been given a particular name, and has been associated with a story.  This helps in remembering the name and pattern of the constellation. It also serves a great purpose in astronomy. There are also a lot of myths that are associated with constellations, especially Reticulum. This constellation can be found in the southern hemisphere or the southern sky and the name has been derived from Latin word reticle, which means a small net. The constellation Reticule was found by Isaac Habrecht II in the 16th century, and was first given the official status in the 19th century.

Let us look at the few facts about Reticulum

The constellation Reticulum like any other constellation holds a number of astonishing facts inside itself. These are:

  • It is one of the smallest constellations in the sky
  • It was first named Rhombus, after the geometrical shape
  • It contains five stars as a part of the constellation and has planets too
  • The area of the constellation is 114 square degrees
  • The constellation has been ranked 82 in terms of size
  • It is bordered by Hydrus, Doardo, Horologium all of which are constellations
  • There are no stars in Reticulum that are brighter than magnitude 3
  • It is recognised between latitudes 20 degrees and -90 degrees
  • The brightest star in the constellation is Alpha reticuli which is a yellow giant star and is located at a distance of approximately 162 light years

The Alpha Reticuli

The Alpha reticuli is the brightest star in the constellation and is yellow in colour due to the gas that comprises of the star. The star is the largest among all other stars that make up the constellation.

The Beta Reticuli

The beta reticuli is a binary star system in southern constellation of Reticulum. It can be seen with the naked eye too. The star is located almost 97 light years from the Sun. The size of the radius of the star is almost 9.3 times the radius of the Sun which is like having 9 suns inside the beta reticuli.

There are no myths related to Reticulum like other constellations. But, the story of the constellation is an interesting one. The founder of constellation Habrecht and his brother were skilled clock makers from Germany and specialised in constructing astronomical clocks. The astronomical clock had a calendar dial, an astrolabe, indicator for planets and eclipses and it also consisted of a celestial globe. When, the constellation was discovered earlier by Lacaille but could not be established with proof. This was further presented to the world in a more structured manner by Habrecht in the 19th century, and named Reticulum. The main stars of the constellation are: Alpha Reticuli, Beta Reticuli, and Epsilon Reticuli.

The galaxy in which Reticulum resides is called the Topsy Turvy galaxy which is about 50,000 light years in expanded size and is almost 14.9 million light years away from the planet Earth. The galaxy has been named so because of its uneven shape. The dispersed appearance and stout starburst is due to a galactic collision that happened eons ago. The galaxy makes the constellation appear in a highlighted form on a dark night, which makes it look extremely beautiful.