Constellation Carina

 

The Carina constellation is located in the southern hemisphere. The name origins in the Latin language and means “Keel”. It was originally part of a bigger constellation called Argo Navis which depicted the entire ship including the Stern and the Sails. It was described by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century but divided into three parts in the 18th century by the French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille.

How to spot Carina

The special part of Carina is that it is intercepted by the Milky Way. If you find the famous Crux, you may locate Carina to its east. In the southern hemisphere Carina can be seen during autumn to mid-winter, but is best seen in March high in the sky. Carina is located below the stern of the ship and the sail of the ship, so that the three constellations together make up the Argo Navis. The most famous star of Carina is "Eta Carinae". It is located at a distance of 6000 light years and is a variable blue giant, plus a binary star.

Mythology

Argo Navis was the talking ship of the hero Jason, with whom he traveled to Colchis. There he tried with the help of Hercules and the twins Castor and Pollux to steal the Golden Fleece, the fur of the sacrificed Ram. Jason’s half-brother Pelias was brought to the throne - to get it back himself, Jason should bring him the golden fur, which seemed to be an almost impossible act, as the Golden Fleece was guarded by a dragon in a sacred grove. Ultimately, the king's daughter Medea helped the hero to own the Fleece. In honor of all those involved, the Argo Navis and the Golden Fleece were consecrated as constellations.

Interesting Facts

The brightest star in the constellation is Canopus. It is named after the captain who sailed the massive naval fleet to rescue Helen, the king’s wife, who had been abducted and taken to the city of Troy. Canopus is a supergiant and is the second brightest star in the southern night sky.

The USS Carina (AK-74), a United States Navy Crater class cargo that was launched in 1942, was named after the constellation.