Universe Guide

Ara, The Altar Constellation

Ara Constellation Star Map

Ara (Pronounciation:Are-ah, Abbrev:Ara, Latin:Arae) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Ara takes up 237.057 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 0.57% of the night sky. Ara is the 63rd largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation name means The Altar . The constellation is one of the original constellations that was devised by the Ancient Greco-Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy who lived between 90 A.D. and 168 A.D.

There are 8 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 964 stars. There are 43 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

Ara is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Ara is a southern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the northern hemisphere.

There are 10 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Ara. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Ara is Westerlund 1-26.

There are no deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 1 non-Messier deep space objects that are covered on this site and the list is below.

The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.

Distance to Ara

You can't just go to one location and arrive at the constellation because the constellation is made up of stars at different locations and different distances. The nearest main star in the constellation is at a distance of 197.91 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 1,113.19 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 522.98 light years.

Ara Star Facts

The caveat of these stars are that they are catalogued on this site. If you know of a star that is nearer or further then do let me know in the comments and I'll add it to the site. The stars mentioned are from the Hipparcos catalogue or have been added because of their special status.

HIP 82724, Ara's Nearest Star

The nearest star to Earth is HIP 82724 which is roughly about 12.06 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HIP 85523 which is about 14.81 Light Years.

HIP 86894, Ara's Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 86894 and it is 108721.1 light years away from the Sun. The furthest figure is derived from either the 1997 or 2007 Hipparcos star catalogue parallax figure and it has been known to produce distances that are wrong.

Beta Arae, Brightest Star in Ara

The brightest star in Ara is Beta Arae and is located about 16.47 light years from the Sun. The star has a apparent magnitude of 2.84 but an absolute magnitude of -3.64 when the star is viewed from a distance of 10 Parsecs or 32.6 Light Years. The star is only recognised as being Beta Arae rather than having Alpha status.

V862 Arae, Ara's Dimmest Visible Star

The dimmest star that can be seen in Ara with the naked eye is V862 Arae. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 5.99. The dimmest star that a person is able to see with their naked eye is 6.0 magnitude based on the table in the reference. Ref: University of Michigan.

Westerlund 1-26

In the constellation boundaries is the Westerlund 1 star cluster. The cluster contains Westerlund 1-26 which is over 1,500 times the size of our Sun. If placed at the heart of our solar system, Westerlund 1-26 would extend out past the orbits of Earth and Mars.

Ara Mythology

Ara or the Altar was the location according to Greek Mythology where the Greek Gods swore allegiance before going to battle with the Titans. Legend has it Lupus was sacrificed on the altar by Centaurus. The altar is depicted as being upside down with the milky way depicting smoke coming from it.

How to Find and View Ara in the Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

Ara is not visible from the northern hemisphere as far north as London. To see it in the Northern Hemisphere, you would need to go a little further south. It is fully visible only in around the beginning (either side) of September in Miami.

Southern Hemisphere

From about April in a South to South East direction, the constellation can be fully seen. It will disappear at the end of December but during the time it is visible, it rises high into the sky.

Ara Facts

Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarBeta Arae
Area237.057 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky0.57%
Size Position63rd
Hemisphere Southern
Site Exoplanet Count10
Meteor Shower Count0
Nearest StarHIP 82724
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)HIP 85523
Largest StarWesterlund 1-26
Brightest StarBeta Arae
Dimmest StarV862 Arae
Furthest StarHIP 86894
Bright Star Count43
Hipparcos Star Count964
Main Star Count8
Messier Deep Space Object Count0
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsScorpius
Triangulum Australe
Corona Australis

*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.

List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Ara

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
NGC 6215Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies-58 59 36.4616 51 06m 811
NGC6397Globular Cluster9,000 -53 40 27.617 40 42m 09
Stingray NebulaPlanetary Nebula18,260 -59:29:2417h 16h 21
Westerlund - 1Star Cluster12,100-45:51:09.416h 47h 04m 0

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