From the September 2017 issue

Exploring Capricornus

Two double stars and a great globular cluster highlight this dim star group.
By | Published: September 5, 2017 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
Capricornus the Sea Goat is one of the faintest constellations along the ecliptic. With none of its stars shining brighter than 3rd magnitude, many suburban stargazers often bypass it in favor of brighter regions. Yet for those who persevere, Capricornus holds a few hidden gems visible through our binoculars.

So, what exactly is a Sea Goat, and who concocted that image? Despite its faintness, Capricornus is one of the oldest constellations in the sky, tracing its origin back to ancient Sumeria. As one culture was assimilated into another, Capricornus became associated with Pan, the Greek god of nature who was half goat and half human. In one tale, Pan helped Zeus battle the Titans. During an especially harrowing part of the clash, Pan barely escaped Typhon, the deadliest creature in Greek mythology, by giving himself a fish’s tail and jumping into the Nile River.

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