Star Names:

Chamaeleon


Map of The Constellation of Chamaeleon
Please hover over any star to get more information
Chamaeleon is a very small constellation located near the south pole. It was created in the 16th century by the Dutch astronomer and cartographer Petrus Plancius from the observations of Dutch explorers Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman. Chamaeleon first appeared in a celestial atlas in Johann Bayer's Uranometria in 1603. The constellation was named after the chameleon, a type of lizard. Australians sometimes call it the "Frying Pan."

The constellation Chamaeleon occupies an area of 132 square degrees and contains one star with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +0° and -90° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of April.

None of the stars in Chamaeleon are brighter than fourth magnitude. The brightest one, [2655] alpha Chamaeleontis, is 63.5 light years distant from Earth and has an apparent magnitude of 4.07. The second brightest star is [2656] gamma Chamaeleontis, with an apparent magnitude of 4.11. [2657] beta Chamaeleontis, the third brightest star in the constellation, is a B-type main sequence star about 270 light-years away from Earth, with an apparent magnitude varying between 4.24 and 4.30.

Chamaeleon also has several binary stars: [2666] delta-1, a close pair of nearly equal stars, [2660] epsilon, another close binary, and [2658] theta Chamaeleontis, a wide binary star.

A notable deep sky feature was discovered in Chamaeleon in 1999. It is an unusual cluster consisting of about 12 very young stars (8 millions years old), centered on [2665] eta Chamaeleontis. It is the first open cluster that was discovered because of its member stars' X-ray emission. The Eta Chamaeleontis Cluster is also unusual because it appears isolated, without any dust or gas clouds that usually provide the material for star formation.

Chamaeleon is also home to NGC 3195, the southernmost bright planetary nebula in the sky. The nebula cannot be seen at all from the northern hemisphere, but is popular and commonly observed in the south.

Chamaeleon belongs to the Johann Bayer family of constellations, along with Hydrus, Dorado, Volans, Apus, Pavo, Grus, Phoenix, Tucana, Indus and Musca.

Constellations directly bordering Chamaeleon are Musca, Carina, Volans, Mensa, Octans and Apus.


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