Sextans Constellation: Facts & Myths

Sextans is the constellation that lies in the southern sky close to the celestial equator. This constellation represents the astrophysical sextant. There is no myth about this constellation, but there is a story related to it. It was discovered by Johannes Hevelius, who was a Polish Astronomer in 1687. It was original named Sextans Uraniae after the instrument of the Johannes. This instrument was used to measure the position of the star until it was destroyed in a fire at Johannes’s observatory in the year of 1679.

Origin of Sextans

The sextant word arises from the Indo-European root, that is, six. It has different derivatives in different languages. The original name, Sextans Uraniae was developed with Urania, which was the muse of the astronomy in mind.

Sextans: Features to know

As a constellation, it covers a slightly dim and sparse area of the sky. Alpha Sextantis is the only one start, which this constellation has above the 5th magnitude. There are some double stars to be found in this constellation, named 35, 40 and Gamma Sextantis. Moreover, it also has been declared that it has a few noteworthy variable stars that include Beta, 23, 25 Sextantis and also LHS 292. There is a notable deep-sky object in this constellation named NGC 3115, which is an edge-on lenticular galaxy. The constellation lies close to the ecliptic that causes the Moon along with some planets to cross it for a short period in an occasional manner.

Facts to be covered

Being a mid-sized constellation that covers an area of 314 square degrees. Moreover, it also has ranked at the 47th position in size of the list of 88 constellations in the night heavens. Due to its dim constellation, it can be a very challenging task to find it even under perfect conditions. It has no messier objects. The Spindle Galaxy appears nearly edge-on to the line of sight, which is a lenticular galaxy. This galaxy sits on 31.6 million light years away, and it is the nearest galaxy to appear and has a supermassive black hole at the middle. Sextans A and Sextans B are some other irregular galaxies. When it comes to Sextans B, it is one of the smallest irregular galaxies that are known to have planetary nebulas.

The constellation can be observed at latitudes between +80 degree and –90 degrees. If we talk about the neighboring constellations, they are Crater, Leo, and Hydra. It does not have any stars that are brighter than magnitude 3. Additionally, it has five stars that are situated within 10 parsecs of the Earth.

Sextans family

Sextans come from the family of constellations known as Hercules along with Ara, Aquila, Crater, Corvus, Crux, Corona Australis, Centaurus, Hydra, Lupus, Sagitta, Ophiuchus, Triangulum Australe, Serpens, Vulpecula, and many others. It has one daytime meteor shower, named the Sextantids that appears in late October and early November. To know more about this constellation, you can pay a visit to the internet as there are lots of sources that give you a right and genuine information regarding this constellation.