Located in the Southern Sky, Lupus is a constellation that is Latin for wolf. Lupus was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy, and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations. There was a time in which Lupus was an asterism associated with the neighboring constellation Centaurus.
In the sky, Lupus covers 333.7 square degrees, which is approximately 0.809% of the night sky. This makes the constellation as 46th largest of 88 modern constellations, and the whole constellation is visible to observers south of latitude 34°N.
|Visibility In Pacific Northwest||March to July|
|Best Times To View||April (Low on Southern Horizon, partially visible)|
|Area||334 square degrees|
|Brightest Object||α Lup|
|Neighboring Constellations||Norma, Scorpius, Circinus, Centaurus, Libra, Hydra|
In ancient times, the constellation was considered an asterism within the constellation Centaurus, and was considered to have been an arbitrary animal, killed, or about to be killed, on behalf of, or for, Centaurus. An alternative visualization, attested by Eratosthenes, was that this constellation was a wineskin held by Centaurus. Lupus and Centaurus were together until Hipparchus of Bithynia named it Therion in the 2nd century BC.
The Greek constellation is probably based on the Babylonian figure known as the Mad Dog (UR.IDIM). This was a strange hybrid creature that combined the head and torso of a man with the legs and tail of a lion (the cuneiform sign ‘UR’ simply refers to a large carnivore; lions, wolves and dogs are all included). It is often found in association with the sun god and another mythical being called the Bison-man, which is supposedly related to the Greek constellation of Centaurus.
In Arab folk astronomy, the constellations Lupus and Centaurus were collectively called al-Shamareekh, meaning the dense branches of the date palm’s fruit. Later Islamic astronomy would change the name to be a predatory wild beast.
In Europe, no particular animal was associated with it until the Latin translation of Ptolemy’s work identified it with the wolf.
Overall, there are 127 stars within the borders of the constellation that are brighter than or equal to an apparent magnitude 6.5.
Most of the brightest stars in Lupus are massive members of the nearest OB association, Scorpius–Centaurus.
Towards the north of the constellation are globular clusters NGC 5824 and NGC 5986. There are 2 open clusters to the south, NGC 5822 and NGC 5749, plus globular cluster NGC 5927 on the eastern border with Norma.
On the western border are two spiral galaxies and the Wolf–Rayet planetary nebula IC 4406, containing some of the hottest stars in existence. IC 4406, also called the Retina Nebula. Another planetary nebula, NGC 5882, is towards the center of the constellation. The transiting exoplanet Lupus-TR-3b lies in this constellation. The historic supernova SN 1006 is described by various sources as appearing on April 30 to May 1, 1006, in the constellation of Lupus.
ESO 274-1 is a spiral galaxy seen from edge-on that requires an amateur telescope with at least 12 inches of aperture to view.
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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