Star Names:

Camelopardalis


Map of The Constellation of Camelopardalis
Please hover over any star to get more information
Camelopardalis, or the Giraffe, is a large yet faint constellation in the northern hemisphere. It was created by Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius and first described by German astronomer Jacob Bartsch, both in the early 17th century. The constellation lies between the head of Ursa Major and Cassiopeia, in an area that the Greeks left blank because it did not contain any stars brighter than fourth magnitude.

When he included Camelopardalis on his map in 1624, Jacob Bartsch wrote that it stood for the camel on which Rebecca rode into Canaan to be married to Isaac, as written in Genesis. The constellation, however, represents a giraffe, not a camel, and the origin of its name is unclear. The Greeks, for reference, called the giraffe the "leopard camel" because it had a leopard's spots and the head of a camel. The name is also sometimes spelled Camelopardalus or Camelopardus.

The constellation Camelopardalis occupies an area of 757 square degrees and contains three stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -10° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of February.

Even though it is the 18th largest constellation, Camelopardalis does not have any stars exceeding magnitude 4. At magnitude 4.03, [1051] beta Camelopardalis is the brightest star in the constellation. It is a binary star, a yellow G-type supergiant, about 1000 light-years distant from Earth.

The second brightest star in Camelopardalis is [1052] CS Camelopardalis, at magnitude 4.21. It is another binary star, located in a reflection nebula, composed of a blue-white B-type supergiant and a fainter companion star.

[1053] alpha Camelopardalis is only the third brightest star in the constellation, with a magnitude of 4.3. It is a blue O-type supergiant and an emission-line star, one losing mass very rapidly.

There are several other interesting stars in Camelopardalis. [1058] gamma Camelopardalis, the haunch of the giraffe, is a white A-type subgiant that lies 335 light-years away. [1080] Struve (sigma) 1694 is a binary star composed of a white A-type subgiant and another yellow and blue binary star as the secondary component. [1054] BE Camelopardalis is a red M-type bright giant classified as an irregular variable star that lies about 965 light-years from Earth and has apparent magnitude of 4.39.

Camelopardalis also contains several notable deep sky objects. NGC 2403 is an intermediate spiral galaxy with a magnitude of 8.4, discovered by William Herschel in the 18th century. It is an outlying member of the Messier 81 Group (Ursa Major galaxy group) and can easily be seen with a medium-sized telescope.

NGC 1502 is a magnitude 6 open cluster with two binary stars at its centre. Kemble's Cascade, or Kemble 1, is an asterism that appears to flow into NGC 1502. Visually, it is a straight line of more than 20 colourful magnitude 5-10 stars with the open cluster at the end.

IC 342 is another intermediate spiral galaxy, lying near the galactic equator, where it is pretty difficult to observe because of the dust. Discovered in the late 19th century, it is one of the brightest two galaxies in the IC 342 or the Maffei 1 Group, the group of galaxies nearest to the Local Group. It lies 3.2° away from [1058] gamma Camelopardalis. Camelopardalis is also home to a planetary nebula, NGC 1501, and a small galaxy, NGC 2655.

Camelopardalis belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations, along with Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Draco, Canes Venatici, Bootes, Coma Berenices, Corona Borealis, Leo Minor and Lynx.

Constellations directly bordering Camelopardalis are Draco, Ursa Minor, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Perseus, Auriga, Lynx and Ursa Major.



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