Located in the southern celestial hemisphere, Corvus is a small constellation with its name means “crow” in Latin. It is 1 of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, which depicts a raven, a bird associated with stories about the god Apollo, perched on the back of Hydra the water snake. The four brightest stars in Corvus, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon, and Beta Corvi, form a distinctive quadrilateral in the night sky.
The brightest star in the constellation is Gamma Corvi, otherwise known as Gienah has an apparent magnitude of 2.59. Three star systems have exoplanets, with a fourth planetary system being unconfirmed. TV Corvi is a dwarf nova that is in a very close orbit.
Covering 184 square degrees; corresponding to 0.446% of the sky, Corvus ranks 70th of the 88 constellations in area. Its position in the Southern Celestial Hemisphere means that the whole constellation is visible to observers south of 65°N.
|Visibility In Pacific Northwest||November to May|
|Best Times To View||May|
|Area||184 square degrees|
|Brightest Object||γ Crv|
|Meteor showers||Corvids, Eta Corvids|
|Neighboring Constellations||Virgo, Crater, Hydra|
In the Babylonian star catalogues dating from at least 1100 BC, what is known today as Corvus was called the Raven. As with more familiar Classical astronomy, it was placed sitting on the tail of the Serpent. The Babylonian constellation was sacred to Adad, the god of rain and storm; in the second Millennium it would have risen just before the autumnal rainy season. These two constellations were introduced to the Greeks around 500 BC; which marked the winter and summer solstices. Moreover, Hydra had been a landmark as it had straddled the celestial equator in antiquity..
Corvus is associated with the myth of Apollo and his lover Coronis the Lapith. Coronis had been unfaithful to Apollo; when he learned this information from a pure white crow, he turned its feathers black in a fit of rage.
Chinese astronomy places the stars of Corvus within the Vermilion Bird of the South.
Indian astronomy represents the five main stars of Corvus as a hand or fist corresponding to the Hasta.
Corvus was recognized as a constellation by several Polynesian cultures. The people of Brazil had several different myths and views of the constellation. Some saw the constellation as a tortoise, while others saw an egret.
Johann Bayer used the Greek letters Alpha through Eta to label the most prominent stars in the constellation. John Flamsteed gave nine stars Flamsteed designations. The constellation’s contains 29 stars brighter than or equal to apparent magnitude 6.5.
Four principal stars, Delta, Gamma, Epsilon, and Beta Corvi, form a quadrilateral asterism known as “the Sail”. Although none of the stars are particularly bright, these stars lie in a dim area of the sky, which renders the asterism easy to distinguish.
Corvus contains no Messier objects, but has several galaxies and a planetary nebula that are observable with amateur telescopes. The center of Corvus is home to the planetary nebula NGC 4361, which resembles a small elliptical galaxy.
The NGC 4038 Group is a group of galaxies across Corvus and Crater, which may contain 13 to 27 galaxies. The best-known member is the Antennae peculiar galaxy, which consists of 2 interacting galaxies NGC 4038 and 4039. These 2 galaxies appear to have a heart shape as seen from Earth and appears in a telescope at the 10th magnitude.
NGC 4027 is a member of the NGC 4038 group, which is notable for its extended spiral arm. Known as the Ringtail Galaxy, NGC 4027 lies close to 31 Crateris and as a barred spiral galaxy, its distorted shape is probably due to a past collision.
Make sure to check out other articles on the site, including a brief introduction to constellations, other constellation articles, and more!
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