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 16 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.
The distance to Draco is not calculable because all the stars that make up the constellation are at various distances. The best answer for distance to Draco is to calculate the average distance of the stars.
There are 149 Extrasolar Planets (Exoplanets) in this constellation that are detailed on this site. There is a dedicated page for exoplanets in Draco. For a list of named stars, that is stars that don't start HD or HIP, please visit Draco Star List Page.
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.
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.
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|
|Is a Zodiac Sign||No|
|Area||1082.952 sq. deg.|
|Percentage of Night Sky||2.63%|
|Site Exoplanet Count||149|
|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||16|
|Messier Deep Space Object Count||0|
|*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count||2|
|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 Ly||+66d 38` 0||17h 58m 33s|
|Spindle Galaxy (NGC5866)||Lenticular Galaxy||30 Million||+55:45:48||15h 06h 29m 5|
|Tadpole Galaxy||Barred Spiral Galaxy||400 Million||+55:25:32||16h 6h 3|