Crater is a small, faint constellation in the southern hemisphere. Its name is Latin for "cup." Crater was one of the constellations first charted by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century.
In Greek mythology, the constellation Crater is associated with the cup of the god Apollo and the story of Apollo sending his raven to fetch water in a cup. The bird, however, took a few days to rest and feast on fruit. After finally taking the cup filled with water back to Apollo, it also took a water snake as an excuse for being so late. Apollo was not deceived. Angry, he cast the crow (Corvus
), the cup (Crater) and the water snake (Hydra
) into the sky.
The constellation Crater occupies an area of 282 square degrees and contains two stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +65° and -90° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of April.
Crater does not have any stars brighter than fourth magnitude and most of the galaxies in the constellation are twelfth magnitude or fainter.
The brightest star in the constellation is 
delta Crateris, with a magnitude of 3.56. It is an orange giant poor in metal content, with a magnitude of 3.56. It lies approximately 195 light-years away from Earth. It also known by the name Labrum, Latin for "the lip," a symbolic reference to the Holy Grail.
gamma Crateris is a fixed binary star with a magnitude of 4.05, lying 89 light-years away. It consists of a white dwarf and a magnitude 11 companion.
alpha Crateris or Alkes ("the cup") is slightly fainter, with a magnitude of 4.08. It is an orange giant moving at a relatively high velocity, faster than the neighbouring stars. It is very rich in metal content and lies 174 light-years away from Earth.
beta Crateris is a white sub-giant with a magnitude of 4.46, approximately 265 light-years away from Earth. The star’s traditional name is Al Sharasif ("the ribs"), which is also the name for 
nu Hydrae. Beta Crateris has a low mass white dwarf for a companion.
Crater contains two galaxies that are of interest to observers. NGC 3887 is a magnitude 11 barred spiral galaxy. The two other notable objects, NGC 3511 and NGC 3512, are only 11 arcminutes apart. NGC 3511 is a magnitude 12 spiral galaxy seen almost edge-on, while NGC 3981 is another magnitude 12 spiral galaxy with two wide spiral arms.
Crater belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, along with Hercules
, Corona Australis
, Triangulum Australe
Constellations directly bordering Crater are Leo