Carina is actually part of a larger, no longer recognized constellation, the ship Argo. It remains as the keel of the ship. Argo was the ship that Jason and the Argonauts sailed in when journeying after the golden fleece (Aries.) Eratosthenes, also Greek, claimed that the ship was the first to sail the ocean. The Egyptians claimed it was the ark that took Isis and Osiris. Canopus was an important star to the Egyptians. It was worshiped and temples were oriented to Canopus' rising with the sun during the autumnal equinox around 6400 BC. It was considered a symbol of Khons, the first southern star god. Helical setting of the star was dedicated to Thebes and with its association with the river Nile, it was sometimes called the "star of Osiris."

For the Observer

Southern Circumpolar Skies

Alpha Carina, Canopus (06h 23m.57-52° 41' ) is the second brightest star in the sky, after Sirius. It has a magnitude of -0.7 and lies at a distance of 120 light years. Canopus is a class FO star.

Beta Carina, Miaplacidus, (9h 13m -69° 31') has a magnitude of 1.6 and is a class A star. It is about 65 light years distant.

Eta Carina (10h 45m.1 -59° 41') is an irregular viriable. The star is such an impressive variable, it may have been observed as far back as the Babylonians. The star has a reddish color and is classed an F5. Its spectrum shows a lot of nitrogen and ionized metals making it a strong supernova candidate. At one time, the star rivaled Sirius for brightness.

NGC 3372, The Keyhole Nebula (7h 59m.7 -60° 44') surrounds Eta Carina. NGC 2516 is an open star cluster about 15° SE of Canopus. There is a bright red giant star near the center as revealed by telescopes. The cluster is about 20 light years across and about 1200 light years distant.

Copyright © 1995 - 2003
Kathy Miles, Author, and Chuck Peters, Systems Administrator