Star Names:

Pictor


Map of The Constellation of Pictor
Please hover over any star to get more information
Pictor is a faint constellation in the southern hemisphere, lying near the Large Magellanic Cloud. Its name derives from the Latin phrase for the painter's easel, Equuleus Pictoris, which is the name it was originally given by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 17th century, later shortened to Pictor.

The constellation Pictor occupies an area of 247 square degrees and contains two stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +26° and -90° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of January.

The brightest star in Pictor is [6682] alpha Pictoris, an A-type star 660 million years old, lying 99 light-years from Earth. It is classified as a fast-rotating shell star, one surrounded by a disc of gas at the equator, and a Lambda Bootis type star. [6682] alpha Pictoris is the south pole star of the planet Mercury.

[6683] beta Pictoris, the second brightest star in the constellation, is a very young star (less than 20 million years old) that is nevertheless in the main sequence phase of evolution. It has a large disk of dust and gas, a suspected protoplanetary disk, similar to the one from which our solar system formed, and is one of the top candidates for the search for extrasolar planets. It is the main member of the Beta Pictoris Moving Group, a group of 28 young stars in 17 stellar systems, approximately 115 light-years distant. [6683] beta Pictoris lies about 63.4 light-years from Earth.

Kapteyn’s Star (HD 33793) is a red dwarf only 12.78 light-years distant. With the exception of Barnard’s Star in the constellation Ophiuchus, Kapteyn’s Star has the highest proper motion of any star discovered so far. It was first documented by the Dutch astronomer Jacobus Kapteyn. With a visual magnitude of 8.8, the star can only be seen in a telescope.

Pictor also contains a notable deep sky object. NGC 1705 is a dwarf irregular galaxy 2,600 light-years wide and approximately 16.6 light-years distant. It is an old starburst region that is of interest to astronomers studying the evolution of galaxies in the early universe. Individual stars are impossible to make out because they are out of range to all telescopes except the Hubble.

Pictor belongs to the Lacaille family of constellations, along with Norma, Circinus, Telescopium, Microscopium, Sculptor, Fornax, Caelum, Horologium, Octans, Mensa, Reticulum and Antlia.

Constellations directly bordering Pictor are Caelum, Carina, Columba, Dorado, Puppis and Volans.




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