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Canis Major, The Big Dog Constellation Facts and Mythology

Canis Major Constellation Star Map

Canis Major (Pronounciation:Can-iss May-jore, Abbrev:CMa, Latin:Canis Majoris) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Canis Major takes up 380.118 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 0.92% of the night sky. Canis Major is the 43rd largest in terms of size in the night sky.

The constellation name means The Big Dog . 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 1371 stars. There are 90 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.

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

The distance to Canis Major is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Canis Major is to calculate the average distance of the stars.

There are 15 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Canis Major. The current largest star so far identified in the constellation of Canis Major is VY Canis Majoris. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Canis Major Star List Page.

There are 1 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.

Canis Major 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 34074, Furthest Star

The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 34074 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.

OS Canis Majoris, Dimmest Visible Star

The dimmest star that can be seen in Canis Major with the naked eye is OS Canis Majoris. The dim star has an apparent magnitude of 6. 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 constellation contains Sirius which is the brightest star in the night sky, the only star brighter is the Sun. Sirius has long been a source of inspiration for stories. In the television series, V, the Visitors were said to be from Sirius.

VY Canis Majoris

VY Canis Majoris is one of the leading contenders for being the largest star in the galaxy. It was widely recognised as being the largest until it was unseated by the discovery of UY Scuti. Given the distance to the star, the exact size of the size is unknown, the size we have is a best guess based on observations and calculations.

To give you an indication of how big the star is, if the star was in our solar system instead of the sun, we would be inside it. The radius of VY Canis Majoris would stretch out as far as Jupiter.

Canis Major Mythology

Canis Major usually refers to one of Orion's hunting dogs who help him fight Taurus or pursuing Lepus the hare.

Canis Major Facts

NameCanis Major
Is a Zodiac Sign No
Largest StarVY Canis Majoris
Brightest StarSirius
Area380.118 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky0.92%
Size Position43rd
Hemisphere Southern
Site Exoplanet Count15
Meteor Shower Count8
Nearest StarSirius
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)Nu2 Canis Majoris
Brightest StarSirius
Dimmest StarOS Canis Majoris
Furthest StarHIP 34074
Bright Star Count90
Hipparcos Star Count1371
Main Star Count8
Messier Deep Space Object Count1
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count1
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsMonoceros

*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 Canis Major

NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Messier 41 (NGC2287)Open Cluster2300-20:4406h 46m 0
NGC 2207Colliding Galaxies81-21:22.2206h 16m 22s

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