The Constellation Directory


"The Keel"


By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Abbreviation: Car
Genitive: Carinae
Constellation family: Heavenly Waters
Nearest constellations: Centaurus, Chamaeleon, Musca, Pictor, Puppis, and Vela
Right ascension: 8.76h
Declination: -59.89°
Visible between latitudes: +20° and -90°
Square degrees: 494
Luminary: Canopus (Alpha Carinae)
Named stars: Canopus, Aspidiske, Miaplacidus, Avior
Notable deep sky objects: NGC 2516, NGC 2808, NGC 3532 (Football Cluster), NGC 3372 (Carina Nebula or Eta Carinae Nebula), IC 2602 (Southern Pleides or Theta Carinae Cluster)


Argo Navis by Johannes Hevelius

By Johannes Hevelius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Carina is a constellation in the Southern Hemisphere that is best viewed in March.

Canopus, Carina's luminary, is the second-brightest star in the entire night sky, surpassed only by Sirius from Canis Major.


Carina used to belong to a significantly larger constellation called Argo Navis, which was named after the ship that Jason and the Argonauts used when on their mission to retrieve the Golden Fleece (which is often associated with Aries).

Argo Navis was split into four separate constellations when the current 88 constellations were officially defined by the IAU, or International Astronomical Union. All four are related to different parts of the ship, with Carina representing the keel, Puppis the stern, Pyxis the compass, and Vela the sails.