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Monoceros

Monoceros is a faint constellation on the winter night sky, surrounded by Orion to the west, Gemini to the north, Canis Major to the south and Hydra to the east. Other bordering constellations includes Canis Minor, Lepus and Puppis.

Monoceros
AbbreviationMon
GenitiveMonocerotis
Meaning in Englishthe Unicorn
Right ascension7.15 h
Declination-5.74°
Visible to latitudeBetween 75° and -85°
On meridian9 p.m., February 20
Area
 - Total
Ranked 35th
482 sq. deg.
No. of stars with
apparent magnitude < 3
0
Brightest star
 - Apparent magnitude
α Monocerotis
3.93
Meteor showers
Bordering constellations

Table of contents

Star map

Notable features

Monoceros is an almost invisible constellation, with only a few fourth magnitude stars. Alpha Monocerotis has a visual magnitude of 3.93, slightly brighter than Gamma Monocerotis, which has a visual magnitude of 3.98.

But Monoceros do have something interesting with the aid of a small telescope. Beta Monocerotis is an impressive triple star system, the three stars form a triangle which seems to be fixed. The visual magnitudes of the stars are 4.7, 5.2 and 6.1. William Herschel discovered it in 1781 and commented it as 'one of the most beautiful sights in the heavens'.

Epsilon Monocerotis is a fixed binary, with visual magnitudes of 4.5 and 6.5.

S Monocerotis, or 15 Monocerotis, is a bluish white variable star and is located at the center of NGC 2264. However the variation of its magnitude is not too great. It has a companion star of visual magnitude 8.

V838 Monocerotis had an outburst starting on January 6, 2002.

Notable deep sky objects

History

Monoceros is a modern constellation, generally supposed to be named by the Dutch astronomer and theologian Petrus Plancius[?] in 1613 and have been charted by Jakob Bartsch[?] as Unicornus in his star chart of 1624; but Wilhelm Olbers[?] and Ludwig Ideler[?] indicate the constellation is actually much older, with it appearing in works as early at 1564, and Joseph Scaliger[?] is reported to have found it on an ancient Persian sphere.

Mythology

Since Monoceros is a modern constellation, it has no classical mythology associated to it. The unicorn is a mythical animal, which resembles a horse but bears a single, spiral horn on its forehead. Its horn is commonly believed to be able to cure poison. This animal is often a symbol of chastity and purity.

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