Constellation charioteer

Constellations > Charioteer

Charioteer is a constellation located in the northern hemisphere. The name comes from the Latin word meaning “charioteer” or “charioteer”. They began to perceive him in this way, because the main stars are located in the form of a sharp charioteer helmet. First recorded in the 2nd century by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy. Holds the sixth fiercest star in the sky.

This is the node of the galactic anticenter (the point opposite to the center of the Milky Way), located in the constellation Sagittarius near the border with Scorpio. The closest bright star to the galactic anticenter is Nat (Beta Taurus).

Among the objects of the constellation Auriga, the open star clusters Messier 36, Messier 37 and Messier 38, as well as the emission / reflection nebula IC 405 (the Flaming Star Nebula) may be of interest.

Constellation charioteer

An object Designation Meaning of the name Object type Magnitude
one M36 No Open cluster 6.30
2 M37 No Open cluster 6.20
3 M38 No Open cluster 7.40
4 Chapel “Goat” Spectrally binary star 0.08
five Beta Charioteer (Mencalinan) “Shoulder of the owner of the reins” Binary star system 1.90
6 Theta Charioteer (Mahasim) “Wrist” Binary star system 2.65
7 Iota Charioteer (Hassaleh) “Ankle charioteer” Orange giant 2.69
eight Epsilon Charioteer (Almaaz) “Kid” Eclipsing double star 2.98
nine This charioteer II “The middle of the belt” Blue subgiant 3.18
10 Delta Auriga “Lord of Creation” Binary star system 3.72
eleven This charioteer “One of the Children” Binary star system 3.75
12 Nude charioteer No Yellow giant 3.96
13 Tau Charioteer No Yellow giant 4.51
fourteen Upsilon Charioteer No Red giant 4.74

Facts, position and map

The constellation Auriga is the 21st largest constellation with an area of ​​657 square degrees. Located in the first quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ1). Can be viewed at latitudes between + 90 ° and -40 °. Neighbors with Taurus, Perseus, Lynx, Gemini and Giraffe.

Lat. title Auriga
Reduction Aur
Symbol Auriga
Right ascension from 4h thirtym up to 7h 22m
Declination from + 28 ° to + 56 °
Square 657 sq. degrees
(21st place)
The brightest stars
(value <3m)
  • Capella (α Aur) – 0.08m
  • Mencalinan (β Aur) – 1.90m
  • θ Aur – 2.62m
  • Hassaleh (ι Aur) – 2.69m
  • Al Anz (ε Aur) – 2.99m
Meteor showers
  • Alpha Aurigids
  • Delta Aurigids
Nearby constellations
  • Giraffe
  • Perseus
  • Taurus
  • Twins
  • Lynx
The constellation is visible in latitudes from + 90 ° to -34 °.
The best time to watch is December – January.

It contains three Messier objects: M36 (NGC 1960), M37 (NGC 2099) and M38 (NGC 1912), as well as 8 stars with planets. The brightest is Capella (Alpha Auriga), which also occupies the 6th position among all stars. There are two meteor showers: Alpha Aurigids and Delta Aurigids. You can see the diagram of the constellation Charioteer on the star map with bright stars and neighbors.

Constellation charioteer

Belongs to the Perseus family, where Andromeda, Cassiopeia, Pegasus, Triangle, Lizard, Whale, Cepheus and Perseus are also present.


Most often, the constellation Charioteer is displayed in the form of a charioteer, who holds the reins of the chariot in his right hand, and in his left – two young goats behind his back. This image appeared in Johann Bode’s Uranographia (1801).

In ancient myths, Erichthonius, the king of Athens and the son of Hephaestus (the god of fire), appeared in the image of the charioteer. He was raised by Athena, who taught him unusual skills. That is why he became the first person who thought of taming and harnessing four horses to a chariot (copying the movement of the sun god). Zeus was so amazed at this that he placed him in heaven as a reward.

Another story is about Hephaestus. He was limping, so he decided to build a chariot so that he could easily get to any place. There is also a myth that it was Myrtilus (son of Hermes). He served the King of Pisa, Enomai, who had a beautiful daughter, Hippodamia. She decided that she would never agree to the suit of the suitors. The king arranged a chariot race for everyone, where the losers had to die. No one could get ahead of Myrtilus until the son of Tantalus, Pelops, appeared. The girl fell in love with him and asked Myrtilus to let him win. He himself was in love with her, so he complied with the request. For this purpose, he spoiled his wheels, which fell off during the race. Pelops threw him into the sea. But before his death, Mirtilus managed to curse his killer.

If we explain the appearance of the goat, then the star Capella is associated with Amalthea (the goat who became the adoptive mother for Zeus). The name “Capella” is translated from Roman as “goat”. This star is located in the left shoulder of the constellation.

Main stars

Capella (Alpha Charioteer) is the brightest in the constellation and the sixth in the sky. It is 42.2 light years distant. It is represented by two binary pairs of stars: large bright G-type giants in close orbit (about 100 million km) and small, cold red dwarfs at 10,000 AU. from the first pair.



In the northern hemisphere, there are only two stars ahead of the Capella in brightness – Vega (Alpha Lyrae) and Arcturus in Bootes. The star is actively producing X-rays. It is the closest 1st magnitude star to the North Celestial Pole. Takes place on the left shoulder of the Charioteer. Belongs to the moving group Hyades (a large collection of stars with a similar trajectory) – an open star cluster in the constellation Taurus.

Beta Auriga is a triple star system 85 light years distant. The two brightest components are white A-type subgiants, and the third is a red dwarf. The first two are a darkened spectral binary system with variable magnitude: 1.85-1.93. It is part of the Ursa Major Moving Group of Stars (Collinder 285). Traditionally, Menkalinan was named, which is from the Arabic “mankib ðī-l-‘inān” meaning “shoulder of the owner of the reins.”

Theta Aurigae (Mahasim) is a double star, located 173 light years from us. The main constituent is a variable star of the type α² Dog Hounds (with a strong magnetic field and precise spectral lines of strontium, silicon or chromium). The average is 2.65. The name Mahasim was derived from the Arabic word meaning “wrist”. Also sometimes referred to as Bogardus.

The brighter component is an A-type main sequence white dwarf with a magnitude of 2.7, and the companion star is a yellow G-type main sequence dwarf with a magnitude of 7.2. The binary also has an 11th-magnitude companion 49 arc seconds distant.

Iota Aurigae (Al Kab) is a bright orange K-type giant about 512 light years and a magnitude of 2.69. Has several names. Cabalinan (abbreviated as Al Kab) is derived from the Arabic phrase for “the ankle of the charioteer.” The star is also called Hassale.

Epsilon Aurigae (Almaaz) is an obscured binary star located 2,000 light years away. It is represented by an F-class supergiant (135 times the diameter of the Sun) and an unusual companion (a huge dark disk orbiting a binary star). Later observations from the Spitzer Space Telescope showed that the main star is a post-asymptotic giant branch of the star, and the companion is the only B-class star inside the disk. The apparent magnitude changes from 2.92 to 3.93 over 66 days every 27 years. The name Almaaz is translated from Arabic as “goat”.

Eta Auriga (Hedus II) is a blue-white B-type main sequence dwarf, about 219 light years distant. The apparent magnitude is 3.18. In the constellation, it displays one of the “children” of the goat (Capella), which is held by the Charioteer. Also called “Hedus II”, which from Latin “haedus” means “baby”.

Zeta Aurigae is an eclipsing binary star at 790 light years. It is represented by a red supergiant and a B8 satellite. System size: 3.61-3.99 with a period of 972 days. This is the second Khedus (“baby”) held by the Charioteer. The star is also commonly called Sadatoni, which is Arabic for “second hand”.

Delta Auriga is a binary star 140 light years away. Consists of an orange K-type giant and a companion star at 115.4 arc seconds. The apparent magnitude of the main is 3.72, and that of the satellite is 9.7. In Indian astronomy, the star is called Prajapati – “Lord of creation” in Sanskrit.

AE Aurigae is a runaway star (travels through space at an extremely high speed compared to nearby stars), located 1460 light years away. It is an O-type blue main sequence dwarf and an Orion-type variable (a nebula-like star with eruptive, irregular changes in luminosity). Visibility: 5.78-6.08.

nebula IC-405

Nebula IC-405

It is believed that, along with Mu Dove and 53 Aries, she was thrown out in the collision of two double star groups. This could have happened 2 million years ago in the Trapezoidal Cluster located in the Orion Nebula (Messier 42). The star ignites emission / reflection nebula IC-405 with a magnitude of 6.0. The nebula is located near Iota Auriga.

Other famous stars

Lambda Auriga is a binary star, 41.2 light years distant. It is represented by a G-type subgiant and a companion star with a magnitude of 13.4, distant 29 arc seconds. It also has two optical satellites 42 and 146 arc seconds from the main star. The name of the star comes from the Arabic word for “fawn”.

Nat (Gamma Charioteer) – Now known as Beta Taurus and refers to the constellation Taurus. It is the closest bright star to the galactic anticenter.

Celestial objects

Messier 36 (M36, NGC 1960) is a bright open cluster located in the southern region of the constellation. First discovered in the 17th century by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Batista Hodiern. A century later, it was rediscovered by Guillaume Lejantil, but it got into the catalog thanks to Charles Messier in 1764.

Messiah 36

Messiah 36

It contains at least 60 stars and has an apparent magnitude of 6.3. The brightest members of the cluster are B2 stars with an apparent magnitude of 9. It is 4,100 light years distant and spans about 14 light years in diameter. Resembles Messier 45 (Pleiades) in Taurus, but is too distant to be seen in the night sky. Age – 25 million years. Does not hold Evolving Red Giants.

Messier 37 (M37, NGC 2099) is a bright open star cluster 3600-4700 light years distant with a magnitude of 5.6. Discovered alongside M36 and M38 by Giovanni Hodiern (brightest of the three).

Messier 37

Messier 37

It contains about 500 stars, of which 150 are greater than magnitude 12.5. Contains about 13 red giants and is 300 million years old. The hottest main sequence star belongs to the spectral type B9V. It is 24 light years in diameter.

Messier 38 (M38, NGC 1912) is an open cluster about 4,200 light years away. Located 2.5 degrees northwest of M36. Together with M36 and M37, it was originally found by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Batista Hodiern in the 17th century. In 1749, it was rediscovered by the French astronomer Lejantil. And in 1764, all three fall into the catalog of Charles Messier.

Messier 38

Messier 38

The brightest stars in M38 form an oblique cross, or the letter Pi. The brightest element is a class G0 yellow giant with an apparent magnitude of 7.9. At such a distance, it manages to shine 900 times brighter than the Sun. It is 25 light years (20 ′) in diameter. Age 220 million years.

The Flaming Star Nebula (IC 405, SH 2-229, and Caldwell-31) is an emission / reflection nebula that surrounds the star AE Auriga.

It is located 1,500 light years away with an apparent magnitude of 6.0. It can be found near the open cluster M38, the star Iota Aurigae, or the emission nebula IC 410.

IC 405 and IC 410

IC 405 and IC 410

IC 410 is an emission nebula that resembles the Rosette Nebula in the constellation of the Unicorn. Surrounds open cluster NGC 1893. It is 2,200 light years distant and has an apparent magnitude of 13.

You can study the constellation Auriga in the northern hemisphere more closely if you use not only our photos, but 3D models and an online telescope. For an independent search, a static or moving map of the starry sky is suitable.

Constellations of the winter sky

December Aries Whale Eridanus Oven Clock Southern Hydra Perseus Triangle
January Chisel Dora Fish Table Mountain Orion Mesh Taurus
February Charioteer Giraffe Big Dog Dove Gemini Hare Unicorn Painter


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