Star Names:

Sextans


Map of The Constellation of Sextans
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Sextans is a constellation lying on the celestial equator. It was created by the Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in the 17th century. He named it after the astronomical sextant, an instrument he often used to measure star positions while observing them. Hevelius' own sextant burned in a fire at his observatory. He named the constellation after the instrument to commemorate it.

The constellation Sextans occupies an area of 314 square degrees and contains three stars with known planets. It can be seen at latitudes between +80° and -80° and is best visible at 9 p.m. during the month of April.

The brightest star in the constellation is [7891] alpha Sextantis, with a visual magnitude of 4.49. It is a white giant lying about 287 light-years from Earth. In the early 20th century, the star crossed over from the northern to the southern hemisphere owing to the movement of the Earth’s axial tilt.

[7892] gamma Sexantis is a close binary star with a 12th magnitude companion, making it a triple star system. It is about 262 light-years distant. [7893] beta Sextantis is a variable star classified as a blue-white main sequence dwarf, lying about 345 light-years from Earth. [7894] delta Sextantis is another blue-white dwarf, approximately 300 light-years distant. [7895] epsilon Sextantis is a yellow-white giant, lying about 183 light-years away.

Another notable star in Sextans is LHS 292, a red dwarf invisible to the naked eye. It is one of the nearest stars to our solar system, only 14.8 light-years distant from the Sun. It is classified as a flare star, which means that it can unexpectedly become more luminous over short periods.

Sextans contains several notable galaxies. NGC 3169 and NGC 3166 are compact spiral galaxies lying about 50,000 light-years away from each other, or 7 arc minutes apart, which is close enough for them to affect each other’s structure. NGC 3169 is an active star-forming region, while NGC 3166 is not. The galaxies are both eleventh magnitude and approximately 60 million light-years away from Earth.

NGC 3115 is also known as the Spindle Galaxy, a name it shares with a galaxy in the constellation Draco. It is a lenticular galaxy with a magnitude of 9.19, approximately 32 million light-years distant. The Spindle Galaxy is several times the size of the Milky Way.

Sextans A (UGCA 205) is a dwarf irregular galaxy, approximately 4.31 million light-years distant. It is a very active region of star formation, notable for its unusual square shape. It has a visual magnitude of 11.9 and is a member of the Local Group of galaxies.

Sextans B (UGC 5373) is another irregular galaxy in Sextans, also a member of the Local Group. At a 4.44 million light-years’ distance, Sextans is one of the most distant galaxies in the Local Group.

Sextans belongs to the Hercules family of constellations, along with Hercules, Sagitta, Aquila, Lyra, Cygnus, Vulpecula, Hydra, Crater, Corvus, Ophiuchus, Serpens, Scutum, Centaurus, Lupus, Corona Australis, Ara, Triangulum Australe and Crux.

Contellations directly bordering Sextans are Leo, Hydra and Crater.


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