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Fornax Constellation

Fornax Constellation

Fornax constellation is an inconspicuous constellation that lies in the southern hemisphere. Fornax galaxy cluster is part of these constellations – this is one of the largest cluster galaxies and is 2nd closest with 60 million light-years of distance.

You can easily spot is since it is surrounded by Eridanus constellation during autumn and winter nights best.

After the telescope was invented, Lacaille named some of the southern hemisphere constellations that were not spotted separately and recognized before. He liked giving them names after technology discoveries. Fornax was actually named ‘Formax Chimiae’ – the smelting furnace.

Fornax constellation is located in the southern hemisphere and its name is Latin for ‘the furnace’. There aren’t any myths associated with it, because it was first introduced by Lacaille.

How to spot Fornax constellation?

Fornax is the 41st largest constellation in the sky and it lies in the first quadrant of the southern hemisphere. The constellation is best visible at latitudes between +50° and -90°. Fornax is bordered by these constellations: CetusEridanusPhoenix, and Sculptor.

Fornax belongs to the Lacaille family of constellations, along with AntliaCaelumCircinusHorologiumMensaMicroscopiumNormaOctansPictorReticulumSculptor, and Telescopium.

Major stars in Fornax constellation

  1. Dalim – α Fornacis (Alpha Fornacis)

  2. β Fornacis (Beta Fornacis)

  3. HD 16417 – λ2 Fornacis (Lambda-2 Fornacis)

  4. HD 20781 and HD 20782

  5. HIP 13044

The constellation is located south of the ecliptic plane. It is now recognized by IAU and listed as one of the modern 88 known constellations.

Fornax consists of 2 main stars and 27 stars with Bayer/Flamsteed designations. Constellation is visible to all viewers located between latitudes between +50° and -90° The best time to see it is at culmination during December.

Fornax is a home of four stars with known planets and contains no Messier objects. its brightest star is Alpha Fornacis. There aren’t any meteor showers linked to Fornax. Deep-sky objects that are notable are the Great Barred Spiral galaxy (NGC 1365), Fornax A (NGC 1316), the Fornax Dwarf, and UDFy-38135539 galaxy.

The Fornax Cluster is actually a cluster of galaxies and most of them are part of Fornax constellation. This is known to be a relatively small but vivid galaxy cluster with 58 member galaxies in it. Basically this is what made Fornax quite famous – the fact that contains many notable and eye-catchy galaxies.

Mythology of the Fornax constellation

Greek mythology was not familiar with the existence of Fornax constellation, and therefore aren’t any myths linked to it. In Roman mythology, Fornax was the name of a Goddess of bread but this is not at all linked to the story behind this constellation.

The constellation was first cataloged by Lacaille, a famous astronomer, in the mid-18th century after his journey to the Cape of Good Hope. On that trip, he observed and documented all now known southern stars and constellations. He named it after chemical furnace, actually after the small fuel heater that was used in his time for chemical experiments. The given name of the constellation was Formax Chimiae. Francis Bailey was a famous English astronomer and he referred to the constellation as Fornax after Hershel suggested this to him in the mid-19th century.