The Constellation Directory


"The Sails"


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

Abbreviation: Vel
Genitive: Velorum
Constellation family: Heavenly Waters
Nearest constellations: Antlia, Carina, Centaurus, Puppis, and Pyxis
Right ascension: 9.86h
Declination: -47.45°
Visible between latitudes: +30° and -90°
Square degrees: 700
Luminary: Regor (Gamma Velorum)
Named stars: Regor, Suhail al Muhlif, Al Suhail
Notable deep sky objects: NGC 2736 (Pencil Nebula), NGC 3132 (Southern Ring Nebula), Vela Supernova Remnant, Gum 12 (Gum Nebula)


Vela is a large constellation in the Southern Hemisphere. It is best seen in March.


Argo Navis by Johannes Hevelius

By Johannes Hevelius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Vela used to be part of a significantly bigger constellation known as Argo Navis. In Greek mythology, Argo Navis represented the ship that Jason and the Argonauts used when searching for the Golden Fleece (represented by Aries).

Argo Navis was divided into four separate constellations by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) when the current 88 constellations were defined, and each section of Argo Navis was named after a different part of the ship: Carina is called the Keel, Puppis the Stern, Pyxis the Compass, and Vela the Keel.