Draco (constellation)

Draco (constellation)

Overview
Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

. Draco is circumpolar
Circumpolar star
A circumpolar star is a star that, as viewed from a given latitude on Earth, never sets , due to its proximity to one of the celestial poles...

 (that is, never setting) for many observers in the northern hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations today.

Eltanin (Gamma Draconis) is the brightest star in Draco, with an apparent magnitude
Apparent magnitude
The apparent magnitude of a celestial body is a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth, adjusted to the value it would have in the absence of the atmosphere...

 of 2.24.

The constellation contains the star recently named Kepler-10
Kepler-10
Kepler-10, formerly known as KOI-72, is a sunlike star in constellation Draco that lies 173 parsecs away from the Earth. Kepler-10 was targeted by NASA's Kepler spacecraft, as it was seen the first star identified by the Kepler mission as a possible host to a small, transiting exoplanet...

 which has been confirmed to be orbited by Kepler-10b
Kepler-10b
Kepler-10b is the first confirmed terrestrial planet to have been discovered outside the Solar System. Discovered after several months of data collection during the course of the NASA-directed Kepler Mission, which aims to discover Earth-like planets crossing in front of their host stars, the...

, the smallest ever rocky Earth-sized planet detected outside of our solar system.

The star Thuban
Thuban
Thuban also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Draconis is a star in the constellation of Draco. A relatively inconspicuous star in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere, it is historically significant as having been the north pole star in ancient times...

 (α Draconis) was the northern pole star
Pole star
The term "Pole Star" usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star.In general, however, a pole star is a visible star, especially a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent...

 around 2700 BC, during the time of the ancient Egyptians.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Draco (constellation)'
Start a new discussion about 'Draco (constellation)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Draco is a constellation in the far northern sky. Its name is Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 for dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

. Draco is circumpolar
Circumpolar star
A circumpolar star is a star that, as viewed from a given latitude on Earth, never sets , due to its proximity to one of the celestial poles...

 (that is, never setting) for many observers in the northern hemisphere
Northern Hemisphere
The Northern Hemisphere is the half of a planet that is north of its equator—the word hemisphere literally means “half sphere”. It is also that half of the celestial sphere north of the celestial equator...

. It was one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

, and remains one of the 88 modern constellations today.

Stars


Eltanin (Gamma Draconis) is the brightest star in Draco, with an apparent magnitude
Apparent magnitude
The apparent magnitude of a celestial body is a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth, adjusted to the value it would have in the absence of the atmosphere...

 of 2.24.

The constellation contains the star recently named Kepler-10
Kepler-10
Kepler-10, formerly known as KOI-72, is a sunlike star in constellation Draco that lies 173 parsecs away from the Earth. Kepler-10 was targeted by NASA's Kepler spacecraft, as it was seen the first star identified by the Kepler mission as a possible host to a small, transiting exoplanet...

 which has been confirmed to be orbited by Kepler-10b
Kepler-10b
Kepler-10b is the first confirmed terrestrial planet to have been discovered outside the Solar System. Discovered after several months of data collection during the course of the NASA-directed Kepler Mission, which aims to discover Earth-like planets crossing in front of their host stars, the...

, the smallest ever rocky Earth-sized planet detected outside of our solar system.

The star Thuban
Thuban
Thuban also known by its Bayer designation Alpha Draconis is a star in the constellation of Draco. A relatively inconspicuous star in the night sky of the Northern Hemisphere, it is historically significant as having been the north pole star in ancient times...

 (α Draconis) was the northern pole star
Pole star
The term "Pole Star" usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star.In general, however, a pole star is a visible star, especially a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent...

 around 2700 BC, during the time of the ancient Egyptians. Due to the effects of precession, it will once again be the pole star around the year 21000 AD.

Deep sky objects


One of the deep sky objects in Draco is the Cat's Eye Nebula
Cat's Eye Nebula
The Cat's Eye Nebula is a planetary nebula in the constellation of Draco. Structurally, it is one of the most complex nebulae known, with high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope observations revealing remarkable structures such as knots, jets, bubbles and sinewy arc-like features...

 (NGC 6543), a planetary nebula
Planetary nebula
A planetary nebula is an emission nebula consisting of an expanding glowing shell of ionized gas ejected during the asymptotic giant branch phase of certain types of stars late in their life...

 that is said to look like a blue disc. There are several faint galaxies
Galaxy
A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

 in Draco, one of which is the lenticular galaxy
Lenticular galaxy
A lenticular galaxy is a type of galaxy which is intermediate between an elliptical galaxy and a spiral galaxy in galaxy morphological classification schemes. Lenticular galaxies are disk galaxies which have used up or lost most of their interstellar matter and therefore have very little ongoing...

 NGC 5866
NGC 5866
NGC 5866 is a relatively bright lenticular or spiral galaxy in the constellation Draco. NGC 5866 was probably discovered by Pierre Méchain or Charles Messier in 1781, and independently found by William Herschel in 1788.-Dust disk:One of the most outstanding features of NGC 5866 is the extended...

, sometimes considered to be Messier Object 102. Another is the Draco Dwarf Galaxy, one of the least luminous galaxies with an absolute magnitude
Absolute magnitude
Absolute magnitude is the measure of a celestial object's intrinsic brightness. it is also the apparent magnitude a star would have if it were 32.6 light years away from Earth...

 of -8.6 and a diameter of only about 3,500 light years, discovered by Albert G. Wilson of Lowell Observatory
Lowell Observatory
Lowell Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Lowell Observatory was established in 1894, placing it among the oldest observatories in the United States, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965....

 in 1954.

Mythology


Dragons in Greek mythology that may have inspired the constellation's name include Ladon
Dragons in Greek mythology
-Ladon:Ladon was the serpent-like dragon that twined round the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides and guarded the golden apples. Ladon was also said to have as many as one hundred heads. He was overcome and possibly slain by Heracles...

, the dragon who guarded the golden apples of the Hesperides; the dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

 killed by Cadmus
Cadmus
Cadmus or Kadmos , in Greek mythology was a Phoenician prince, the son of king Agenor and queen Telephassa of Tyre and the brother of Phoenix, Cilix and Europa. He was originally sent by his royal parents to seek out and escort his sister Europa back to Tyre after she was abducted from the shores...

 before founding the city of Thebes, Greece
Thebes, Greece
Thebes is a city in Greece, situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain. It played an important role in Greek myth, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and others...

; and the dragon that guarded the Golden Fleece
Golden Fleece
In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which can be procured in Colchis. It figures in the tale of Jason and his band of Argonauts, who set out on a quest by order of King Pelias for the fleece in order to place Jason rightfully on the throne of Iolcus...

 (occasionally revealed as the sleeping or nearly dead figure of Ladon) and was killed by Jason
Jason
Jason was a late ancient Greek mythological hero from the late 10th Century BC, famous as the leader of the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. He was the son of Aeson, the rightful king of Iolcus...

.

In Roman legend, Draco was a dragon killed by the goddess Minerva
Minerva
Minerva was the Roman goddess whom Romans from the 2nd century BC onwards equated with the Greek goddess Athena. She was the virgin goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts, magic...

 and tossed into the sky upon his defeat.

Early Christians originally of the Roman or Greek faith then depicted Draco as the serpent who tempted Adam
Adam
Adam is a figure in the Book of Genesis. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, he is the first human. In the Genesis creation narratives, he was created by Yahweh-Elohim , and the first woman, Eve was formed from his rib...

 and Eve
Eve
Eve is the first woman created by God in the Book of Genesis.Eve may also refer to:-People:*Eve , a common given name and surname*Eve , American recording artist and actress-Places:...

 in the Garden of Eden
Garden of Eden
The Garden of Eden is in the Bible's Book of Genesis as being the place where the first man, Adam, and his wife, Eve, lived after they were created by God. Literally, the Bible speaks about a garden in Eden...

.

Equivalents


The Arabs did not interpret the constellation as a dragon, seeing instead an asterism
Asterism (astronomy)
In astronomy, an asterism is a pattern of stars recognized on Earth's night sky. It may form part of an official constellation, or be composed of stars from more than one. Like constellations, asterisms are in most cases composed of stars which, while they are visible in the same general direction,...

 called the Mother Camels
Mother Camels
The Arabs did not see the constellation Draco as it is now, but in fact they had three sectors in this constelations. the main sector or part was the protecting mother camels, the other parts is the star μ Dra which was called the dancer الراقص and the other part is the wolfs nails or fingerprint...

.

In Chinese astronomy
Chinese astronomy
Astronomy in China has a very long history, with historians considering that "they [the Chinese] were the most persistent and accurate observers of celestial phenomena anywhere in the world before the Arabs."...

, the stars of Draco are located in two areas: the Purple Forbidden enclosure
Purple Forbidden enclosure
The Purple Forbidden enclosure is one of the San Yuan or Three enclosures. Stars and constellations of this group lie near the north celestial pole and visible all year from temperate latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.-Asterisms:The asterisms are :...

 (紫微垣, Zǐ Wēi Yuán) and the Black Tortoise of the North
Black Tortoise (Chinese constellation)
The Black Tortoise is one of the Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations. It is sometimes called the Black Warrior of the North , and is known as Xuanwu in Chinese, Genbu in Japanese, Hyeonmu in Korean and Huyền Vũ in Vietnamese. It represents the north and the winter season...

 (北方玄武, Běi Fāng Xuán Wǔ). A region at the curve of the Dragon's tail is called "Tien Choo" or "Heaven's Kitchen".

Namesakes


USS Draco (AK-79)
USS Draco (AK-79)
USS Draco was an Crater-class cargo ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy for service in World War II, named after the constellation Draco...

 was a United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 Crater class cargo ship
Crater class cargo ship
Crater-class cargo ship is a category of freighter that was constructed for use by the United States Navy during World War II under Maritime Commission EC2-S-C1 type....

named after the constellation.

External links