Star Names:

Auriga


Map of The Constellation of Auriga
Please hover over any star to get more information
Auriga or "the Charioteer" is a constellation in the northern hemisphere, first documented by Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. The constellation's shape resembles the pointed helmet of a charioteer.

In Greek mythology, Auriga is sometimes identified with Hephaestus, the god of blacksmiths and craftsmen, who invented the chariot, and it is also often associated with Myrtilus. Myrtilus, son of the god Hermes, was the charioteer who served king Oenomaus and sabotaged his chariot so that his daughter's suitor might win the race for her hand.

Another Greek hero traditionally associated with Auriga is Erichthonius of Athens, son of Hephaestus, who was the first person to harness four horses to a chariot, inventing the quadriga, the four-horse chariot, which helped him fight off an usurper and made him the king of Athens. The fourth identification is Theseus' son Hippolytus, whose stepmother Phaedra hanged herself after being rejected by him. Theseus subsequently banished him from Athens and, as Hippolytus drove away, his chariot was wrecked and killed him.

In Chinese astronomy, the four main stars of Auriga – [715] alpha, [716] beta, [717] theta and [718] iota Aurigae – along with [7932] beta Tauri, form the constellation Wu Che, or "five chariots," one for each celestial emperor.

The Auriga constellation occupies an area of 657 square degrees and contains six stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -40° and is best visible at 9 p.m. in late February and early March.

The brightest star in the Auriga constellation is [715] Capella or alpha Aurigae. It is the sixth brightest star in the sky and the third brightest star in the northern hemisphere. The Greeks called it Aix and its Roman name, Capella, means "she-goat." The star represents Amalthaea, the goat who nursed Zeus as an infant on the island of Crete. The two offspring Amalthaea bore at the same time, also known as the Haedi ("the kids"), are said to be represented by [720] eta and [722] zeta Aurigae, the stars neighbouring Capella. Capella is in fact not a single star, but a system of four stars in two binary pairs: a pair of two bright type-G giants and a pair of two fainter, smaller red dwarfs.

[716] beta Aurigae or Menkalinan ("shoulder of the rein-holder"), is a white subgiant triple star system. The two brighter components are A-type white subgiants and the third star is a red dwarf, visible only through a telescope.

[717] theta Aurigae, sometimes also called Bogardus or Mahasim ("wrist"), is a binary star with an A-type main sequence dwarf for a primary component and a yellow G-type main sequence dwarf for its companion. The two stars have a magnitude 11 optical companion.

[718] iota Aurigae, traditionally known as Al Kab (short for Kabdhilinan, "the ankle of the rein-holder"), is an orange K-type bright giant about 512 light-years away from Earth. The Chinese know it as the First Star of the Five Chariots.

Another notable feature in the constellation is psi Aurigae, shared by ten star systems that lie near the border with the Lynx constellation. The stars shown on the map are [736] psi 1, [732] psi 2, [748] psi 3, [742] psi 4, [751] psi 5, [749] psi 6, [743] psi 7, [859] psi 8 and [779] psi 9.

The Auriga constellation also has several interesting deep sky objects, including open star clusters Messier 36 (NGC 1960), Messier 37 (NGC 2099) and Messier 38 (NGC 1912), and the emission nebulae IC 405 and IC 410.

Auriga belongs to the Perseus family of constellations, along with Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Andromeda, Perseus, Pegasus, Cetus, Lacerta and Triangulum.

Constellations directly bordering Auriga are Camelopardalis, Perseus, Taurus, Gemini and Lynx.




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