Capricornus is difficult to observe in the night sky as it contains no very bright stars.
- The constellation of Capricornus, more commonly known as Capricorn, is visible in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
- In the Northern hemisphere Capricornus can be seen from July to November.
- In the Northern hemisphere you will need a clear view of the southern horizon to observe the constellation.
- In the Southern hemisphere Capricornus can be viewed from early winter to late spring.
- In the Southern hemisphere the constellation will appear upside down in relation to the Northern hemisphere.
- To locate Capricornus look out for a small but brightish triangle that forms the head of the constellation.
- The area of the night sky in which Capricornus is located is known as the 'Sea'.
- The 'Sea' is mostly inhabited by other 'watery' constellations such as Pisces and Aquarius.
- Capricorn is also one of the twelve signs of the astrological zodiac.
- Capricorn is Latin for a horned goat.
Capricornus represents a half goat half fish creature from ancient mythology.
Capricornus is based on extremely ancient mythology dating back some 4,000 years, it has always been associated with a mythological half goat half fish creature. In Greek mythology the constellation of Capricornus is associated with Pan, the god of the wild and music of the countryside. Pan was a faun, which were half human half goat creatures that personified and embodied the spirits of animals which dwelt in forests and other remote areas.
Pan was involved in the ‘War of the Gods’ which was fought between Zeus and his allies against the Titans, a group of powerful gods descended from Gaia and Uranus. Pan took the side of Zeus and during one of the battles he was attacked by the gigantic and destructive monster Typhon. Pan leaped into the river Nile to escape Typhon and in doing so transformed his goat legs into a fish’s tail, allowing himself to swim to safety. Zeus honored Pan by placing the image of him with the tail of a fish in the night sky.
Main Stars in the Capricornus Constellation
The number next to each star is its apparent magnitude, its brightness from our point of view
on Earth, the lower the number the brighter the star in the night sky.
Also known as Delta Capricorni, Deneb Algedi is a binary star system around 40 light years from Earth, the primary star in the system is a white giant with a mass and radius around twice that
of the sun. Deneb Algedi is the brightest star in the constellation.
Also known as Gamma Capricorni, Nashira is a white giant star around 140 light years from Earth.
Prima & Secunda Giedi
Prima and Secunda Giedi are collectively known as Alpha Capricorni despite being two separate star systems. Prima Giedi is also known as a1
Capricorni and Secunda Giedi is also known as a2
These stars are optical doubles, meaning that they appear close in the night sky from our point of view on Earth but they are actually separated by a large distance.
Also known as Beta Capricorni, Dabih is located around 330 light years from Earth, it is a very complex system consisting of several stars split into two separate components of a binary system.
Finding Capricornus - Northern Hemisphere
The chart shows the position of Capricornus over most of the United States in September at 9pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Northern hemisphere such as Canada, the UK and Europe.
Capricornus is visible low in the southern night sky in the Northern hemisphere.
In July Capricornus will be visible from around midnight low in the south-eastern night sky, moving gradually westward across the southern horizon over the next few hours before daybreak.
In August and September the constellation will appear low in the south-eastern night sky between 9 and 10pm, by around 3 to 4am it will begin to dip below the south-western horizon.
In October and November it will be visible in the southern night sky from around 7 to 8pm,
in October the constellation will begin to dip below the south-western horizon around 1am and in November around 10pm.
Finding Capricornus - Southern Hemisphere
The chart on the left shows the position of Capricornus over most of Australia in early spring at 9pm. This chart can also be applied to other areas of the Southern hemisphere such as New Zealand, South Africa and South America.
In July Capricornus becomes visible at around 10pm low in the eastern horizon, by around 3am it will be almost directly overhead before moving towards the western horizon.
In August and September the constellation will appear in the eastern night sky at around 8pm, by midnight it will be high in the northern night sky as it continues moving westwards throughout the early hours.
In October and December it will be visible from around 9 to 10pm high in the northern night sky before beginning to dip below the western horizon 4 or 5 hours later.
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