Draco (Pronounciation:Drac-o, Abbrev:Dra, Latin:Draconis) is a constellation, one of 88 constellations that the night sky is divided into. The sky is not divided up equally between the constellations. Draco takes up 1082.952 sq. degrees of the night sky which equates to 2.63% of the night sky. Draco is the 8th largest in terms of size in the night sky.
The constellation name means The Dragon . 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 13 stars that make up the main constellation. The hipparcos satellite scanned and detailed 2689 stars. There are 121 stars that can be seen with the naked eye in the constellation on a very clear night sky.
Draco is not a member of the Zodiac group of twelve constellations that appear when the Sun sets. Draco is a northern hemispheric constellation which means it can't be seen easily or at all from the southern hemisphere.
There are no deep space objects that were identified by Charles Messier in this constellation. There are 2 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.
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 26.28 light years and the furthest main star is a distance of 490.47 light years. The average distance to the main stars is 188.39 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 Struve 2398 B which is roughly about 11.27 Light Years from the Earth. The nearest star to the Earth with an exoplanet is Edasich which is about 101.2 Light Years.
The furthest star that is located in the constellation is HIP 57123 and it is 163081.7 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 brightest star in Draco is Eltanin and is located about 68.95 light years from the Sun. The star has a apparent magnitude of 2.24 but an absolute magnitude of -1.13 when the star is viewed from a distance of 10 Parsecs or 32.6 Light Years. The star is only recognised as being Gamma Draconis rather than having Alpha status.
The dimmest star that can be seen in Draco with the naked eye is HIP 63340. 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.
Thuban was once the Pole star but as our star and planets moved, Thuban moved out of position. Thubans loss, Polaris's gain so to speak. Thuban may one day regain its title but not in the near future.
Draco is one of four constellations that can be seen all the year round in the Northern Hemisphere. There is no best or worst time for it. The only thing that could affect your viewing is light and exactly where you are in the Northern Hemisphere. The constellation can be seen soon after dark It will stay in a northern direction. Over night, it will seemingly spin on its axis before returning back to its original position for the next day.
As Draco is so far north, it is not possible to see it at any time of the year, at least from Sydney, Australia. There's more than enough other constellations that are available to keep you occupied to look at.
There are said to be two possible stories behind this constellation. The first is that the Dragon that fought Minerva during the wars between the Gods and the Giants. The Dragon got there because it lost the fight with Minerva and was thrown into the heavens.
The other story is that it is the dragon that Hera put in the Garden of Hesperidia's to protect the golden apples. The apples grew on a tree given to her as a wedding present by Gaia. Hercules slayed the dragon by throwing a spear into the garden. Atlas retrieved the apples for Hercules who took them to Eurystheus.
There are 35 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|
|January Draconids||10-24 Jan||13/16 Jan|
|Eta Draconids||Mar 22 - Apri 8||Mar 29/31||Athebyne|
|Draconids||October 6-10||Oct. 9/10||Rastaban|
|October Draconids||8th October|
|August Mu Draconids||8th December|
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 Draco Star List page.
|Name||Bayer||Distance (Lt.Yr.)||Right Ascension||Declination||Spectral Type||Colour|
|Thuban||Alpha Draconis||303.13||14h 04m 23.43||+64d 22` 32.9||A0III SB||White|
|Rastaban||Beta Draconis||380.14||17h 30m 25.98||+52d 18` 04.9||G2II||Yellow|
|Eltanin||Gamma Draconis||154.29||17h 56m 36.38||+51d 29` 20.2||K5III||Orange|
|Altais||Delta Draconis||97.42||19h 12m 33.15||+67d 39` 40.7||G9III||Yellow|
|Tyl||Epsilon Draconis||147.99||19h 48m 10.21||+70d 16` 04.2||G8III||Yellow|
|Aldhibah||Zeta Draconis||328.46||17h 08m 47.23||+65d 42` 52.7||B6III||Blue/White|
|Athebyne||Eta Draconis||92.08||16h 23m 59.51||+61d 30` 50.7||G8III||Yellow|
|Theta Draconis||Theta Draconis||68.61||16h 01m 53.70||+58d 33` 52.0||F8IV-V||Yellow/White|
|Edasich||Iota Draconis||101.20||15h 24m 55.78||+58d 57` 57.7||K2III||Orange|
|Kappa Draconis||Kappa Draconis||490.47||12h 33m 29.04||+69d 47` 17.6||B6IIIp||Blue/White|
|Grumium||Xi Draconis||112.55||17h 53m 31.63||+56d 52` 20.8||K2III||Orange|
|Tau Draconis||Tau Draconis||146.39||19h 15m 33.29||+73d 21` 18.8||K3III||Orange|
|Batentaban Borealis||Chi Draconis||26.28||18h 21m 02.34||+72d 44` 01.3||F7Vvar||Yellow/White|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||1082.952 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||2.63%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||150|
|Meteor Shower Count||35|
|Nearest Star||Struve 2398 B|
|Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)||Edasich|
|Dimmest Star||HIP 63340|
|Furthest Star||HIP 57123|
|Bright Star Count||121|
|Hipparcos Star Count||2689|
|Main Star Count||13|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||0|
|Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding Constellations||Ursa Minor|
*Note: The number of Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count relates to how many are covered on this site not how many there are.
|Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543)||Planetary Nebula||3,262||+66d 38` 0||17h 58m 33s|
|Markarian 205||Quasar||+75 18 38.242986688||12 21 44m 0723278508|
|NGC 4236||Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies||+69 27 45.25||12 16 42m 118|
|NGC 4319||Spiral Galaxy||80,000,000||+75 19 21.45||12 21 43m 846|
|NGC 5906||Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies||+56 19 43.86||15 15 53m 687|
|NGC 5907||Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies||+56 19 43.86||15 15 53m 687|
|NGC 5949||Dwarf Galaxy||44,000,000||64° 45' 47.07"||15 28 0m 49|
|NGC 5963||Emission-line Galaxy||+56 33 33.938950529||15 33 27m 7333715909|
|NGC 5965||Spiral Galaxy||127,000,000 - 171,000,000||56:41:08||15h 34h 02m 25|
|NGC 5981||Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies||+59 23 30.45||15 37 53m 456|
|NGC 6478||Galaxy in a Group of Galaxies||+51 09 26.205931515||17 48 38m 3416724987|
|NGC 6479||Galaxy||+54 08 56.476545437||17 48 21m 5874602784|
|NGC 6552||Seyfert Galaxy||+66 36 54.347573772||18 00 07m 2507502885|
|NGC 6869||Galaxy||+66 13 39.25||20 00 42m 414|
|NGC4589||Elliptical Galaxy||+74 11 31||12 37 25m 0|
|NGC6090||Interacting Galaxies||400,000,000||+52 27 21||16 11 40m 3|
|NGC6503||Spiral Galaxy||18,000,000||+70 08 39.587370580||17 49 26m 4206717057|
|NGC6621||Galaxy||300,000,000||+68 21 48.50||18 12 55m 276|
|NGC6786||Spiral Galaxy||350,000,000||+73 24 36.20||19 10 53m 928|
|Spindle Galaxy (M102)||Lenticular or Spiral Galaxy||50,000,000||+55:46||15h 06m 5|
|Tadpole Galaxy||Barred Spiral Galaxy||400,000,000||+55:25:32||16h 6h 3|
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