The Keel (of the Argo)

Abbreviation: Car
Genitive: Carinae
Origin: Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille

The constellation of Carina

The Argo was the ship of Jason and the Argonauts who sought the Golden Fleece in Greek myth. The huge constellation Argo Navis was devised by the Greeks to honour this vessel. In the mid-eighteenth century, French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille divided this unwieldy constellation into three smaller pieces: Carina, the keel of the ship; Puppis, the stern or poop deck; and Vela, the sails. However, he retained the Bayer designations of the original constellation so only Carina has an α star, only Vela has a γ star, etc.

Edmund Halley put the now-obsolete constellation Robur Carolinum right through the prow of the ship.

Notable Features

Designation Name Description
α Car Canopus This first magnitude star is often used for navigation by interplanetary spacecraft because of its isolation in the southern sky. It sometimes appears as Suhel (from the Arabic suhayl, an untranslated proper name) in older star atlases and catalogues. In Chinese astronomy, this star is known as Laoren, from Lăo Rén meaning 'the old man'.
β Car Miaplacidus
ε Car Avior This star was named by H.M. Nautical Almanac Office at the behest of the Royal Air Force.
ι Car Aspidiske This star is the southern pole star in 8090 CE when it is less than 0.2° away from the celestial pole. It sometimes appears as Tureis (from the Arabic al‑turais meaning 'the shield') in older star atlases and catalogues.
HD 63765 Tapecue This eighth-magnitude star is known to have at least one exoplanet.
C90 This planetary nebula was discovered by John Herschel on April Fools' Day in 1834. He initially thought he had discovered a new planet. A telescope is necessary to see this object.
C91 Wishing Well Cluster Binoculars reveal the full glory of this open cluster although it is visible to the naked eye.
C92 η Carinae Nebula The famous η Carinae Nebula is a large, bright nebula surrounding the mysterious variable star η Car. The nebula can be seen with the naked eye.
C96 This is another open cluster and best viewed with binoculars.
C102 Southern Pleiades Like its more famous counterpart in the northern hemisphere, binoculars reveal many more stars in this open cluster than the naked eye. The star θ Car is the brightest member of the cluster.
NGC 3114 This sparse open cluster can be difficult to spot as it lies amongst a great many field stars from the Milky Way.