Delphinus, represents a dolphin, swimming across our celestial ocean east of the bright star Altair in Aquilla. The constellation lies along the southern border of the milky way (north of, but close to the celestial equator.) It is neither large nor bright, but it is a distinctive constellation and once you find it, you will always remember it. It doesn't take much imagination to see a tiny dolphin in this figure. The diamond represents the body and a line to the fifth star forms the tail. Delphinus is visible worldwide except for the Antarctic.

Delphinus was one of Ptolemy's original constellations from around 1200BC. The Greeks may have inherited the dolphin idea from India where it was known as a dolphin even earlier. The Arabs called the constellation Al Ka'ud, "the Riding Camel." Early Christians referred to the four main stars as Job's coffin.


Another story about Delphinus is the story of the beautiful nereid Amphitrite. Ovid writes that Neptune saw her dancing on the island of Naxos, fell in love, and did what any self-respecting god would do: He kidnapped her. One version of the story has her escape and flee to the farthest end of the ocean. One of Neptune's dolphins found her, and persuaded her that the god of the sea wasn't so bad. In gratitude, Neptune placed the dolphin in the sky.

Native American Chumash

The Chumash tribe of California call this dolphin A'LUL'QUOY. It means "to go in peace and to protect." It is said that when the Chumash migrated to the mainland, their grandmother, Hutash built them a rainbow bridge on which to cross. She warned them not to look down as they were crossing or they would fall down into the sea and die. Some did look down and fall, but because of her great love for her children, she turned them into dolphins before they hit the water.

Australian Aborigine

The Aborigine of Australia have a story about this group of stars. They hold the dolphin as very sacred, the wise, older brother. When a member of the tribe dies, his spirit becomes a dolphin. They believe the dolphins in the ocean span the physical and spiritual world to guide and protect their brothers and sisters who have chosen to go through this life in human form. In their deepest meditation, their "dolphin dreamtime," the dolphins give them the answers to all of their tribal questions and decisions. Also, to kill a dolphin is seen as sacrilege, and will invoke the wrath of the Gornge, the 'executioner.'

For the Observer

The Stars of Summer

β Beta Delphi (20h 37m 32s +14deg 35' 43") - is a close visual binary with mag. of 4.0 and 4.9

γ Gamma Delphi (20h 46m 39s +16deg 07' 27") - This very pretty double star is easy to split and presents a gold primary at mag. 4.5 and a pretty bluish green secondary mag.. 5.5. One of the finest double stars in the sky, it is located at the tip of the "nose" of the dolphin

θ Theta Delphi - Rich field of stars in this area

NGC 6905 (20h 20.2m +19deg 57') is a planetary nebula with a mag. Of 12

NGC 7006 (20h 59.1m +16deg 00') is a globular cluster with a mag. Of 10

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