Auriga (Pronounciation:Or-rye-ga, Abbrev:Aur, Latin:Aurigae) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Auriga takes up 657.438 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 1.59% of the night sky. Auriga is the 21st largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Charioteer . 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 5 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 1951 stars. There are 77 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Auriga is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Auriga is a northern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the southern hemisphere.
There are 8 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Auriga. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Auriga is Almaaz.
There are 3 deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are no non-Messier deep space objects in this constellation that are covered at present on this site.
The image at the top right of this page was generated using Night Vision, a free to use and download application by Brian Simspon.
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 42.80 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 2,131.79 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 582.94 light years.
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.
The nearest star to Earth is QY Aurigae which is roughly about 20.53 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is HD 40979 which is about 108 Light Years.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is Chi Aurigae and it is 326163.3 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.
The dimmest star that can be seen in Auriga with the naked eye is AE Aurigae. 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.
The Romans referred to it as Erichthonius, son of Minerva and Vulcan. The Greeks equivalence of the parents were Athena and Hephaestus. The son invented the four-horse chariot.
Although not part of the Mythology Legend, Auriga was the name of the spaceship in the fourth alien film starring Sigourney Weaver and Ron Perlman.
The constellation shares ownership of El Nath (Beta Tauri) as it is part of both constellations. It was once considered to be Gamma Aurigae in addition to Beta Tauri.
El Nath is considered the brightest star / biggest star that is closest to the Anti-centre of the galaxy. The centre of the galaxy is Sagittarius A* and El Nath is in the opposite direction.
In London, Capella, the brightest star in Auriga is visible throughout the whole year. Part of the constellation is obscurred from about June to October time. Menkalinan (Beta Aurigae) is also visible throughout the whole of the year from the UK.
Auriga is just about fully visible in January with Capella just above the horizon. The best time to see it is in February and March when it is not obscured. It never reaches high into the sky. To find it, look for the unmistakable Orion with its belt and look downards to the horizon.
There are 24 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The list below are major ones and which I have a date period for.
|Name||Activity||Peak Activity||Closest Star|
|Zeta Aurigids||11-Dec - 21 Jan||31-Jan||Saclateni|
|Alpha Aurigids||Aug 25-Sept 6||Sept. 1/2||Mahasim|
|Delta Aurigids||Sep 18 - Oct 10||Sep 29||Delta Aurigae|
|November Iota Aurigids||1 Nov- 23 Nov||15-Nov||Hassaleh|
The following list contains the stars that make up the constellation. For a larger list of stars in the entire constellation area, please visit the For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Auriga Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Capella||Alpha Aurigae||42.80||05h 16m 41.30||+45d 59` 56.5||M1: comp||Red|
|Menkalinan||Beta Aurigae||81.11||05h 59m 31.77||+44d 56` 50.8||A2V||White|
|Almaaz||Epsilon Aurigae||2131.79||05h 01m 58.13||+43d 49` 23.9||F0Ia||Yellow/White|
|Mahasim||Theta Aurigae||165.57||05h 59m 43.24||+37d 12` 46.0||A0p Si||White|
|Hassaleh||Iota Aurigae||493.44||04h 56m 59.62||+33d 09` 58.1||K3IIvar||Orange|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||657.438 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||1.59%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||8|
|Meteor Shower Count||24|
|Nearest Star||QY Aurigae|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||HD 40979|
|Dimmest Star||AE Aurigae|
|Furthest Star||Chi Aurigae|
|Bright Star Count||77|
|Hipparcos Star Count||1951|
|Main Star Count||5|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||3|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Camelopardalis|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|3C 147||Seyfert 1 Galaxy||+49 51 07.2337251||05 42 36m 13789843|
|Messier 36 (NGC1960)||Open Star Cluster||4100||+34:08||05h 36m 1|
|Messier 37 (NGC2099)||Open Star Cluster||45110||+32:33||05h 52m 4|
|Messier 38 (NGC1912)||Open Star Cluster||4200||+35:50||05h 28m 4|
|Tadpoles Nebula||Nebula||19640||33:29:00||05h 22h 00|
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