Star Names:

Canis Minor


Map of The Constellation of Canis Minor
Please hover over any star to get more information
Canis Minor is a small constellation in the northern hemisphere, first documented by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Its name means "smaller dog" and it represents one of the dogs following the hunter Orion. The constellation Canis Major is identified as the other dog. In another interpretation, Canis Minor is Maera, dog of Icarius, the man whom the Greek god Dionysus taught to make wine. Icarius' wine had such an intoxicating effect that, when his friends tasted it, they thought they had been poisoned and killed Icarius. The dog died of grief and Zeus placed its image among the stars. In this interpretation, Icarius is represented by the constellation Bootes, the Herdsman.

The constellation Canis Minor occupies an area of 183 square degrees and does not contain any stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +85° and -75° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of March.

There are only two bright stars in Canis Minor. [1537] alpha Canis Minoris or Procyon ("before the dog") is the seventh brightest star in the sky, with a magnitude of 0.34. It is a binary star system that consists of a white star, Procyon A, and a fainter star Procyon B, which is a white dwarf. Procyon is only 11.41 light-years distant from Earth, which is why it appears so bright in the sky. Together with two other bright stars, [1382] Sirius in Canis Major and [5972] Betelgeuse in Orion, Procyon forms the Winter Triangle, an asterism that appears like an equilateral triangle in the sky. Procyon is also a part of the Winter Hexagon, a more complex asterism with vertices at [7931] Aldebaran in Taurus, [715] Capella in Auriga, [3940] Castor and [3938] Pollux in Gemini, [5971] Rigel in Orion and [1382] Sirius in Canis Major.

[1538] beta Canis Minoris, traditionally known as Gomeisa ("the bleary-eyed"), is a hot B8-class star with a magnitude of 2.8, surrounded by a disk of material. It is easy to spot even with the naked eye.

Other notable stars in Canis Minor include two binaries – [1539] gamma Canis Minoris, an orange giant with a magnitude of 4.33, and [1540] G Canis Minoris, another orange giant with an apparent magnitude of 4.39. There are also [1542] epsilon Canis Minoris, a yellow G-type bright giant about 990 light-years distant and [1543] zeta Canis Minoris, a blue-white giant with a magnitude of 5.12.

The constellation does not have any deep sky objects brighter than magnitude 15.

Canis Minor belongs to the Orion family of constellations, along with Orion, Canis Major, Monoceros and Lepus.

Constellations directly bordering Canis Minor are Monoceros, Gemini, Cancer and Hydra.



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