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Draco, The Dragon Constellation Facts and Mythology

Draco Constellation Star Map

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.

Draco 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.

Struve 2398 B, Nearest Star

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.

HIP 57123, Furthest Star

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.

Eltanin, Brightest Star in Draco

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.

HIP 63340, Dimmest Visible Star

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

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 Mythology

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.

Meteor Showers Radiating from Draco

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.

NameActivityPeak ActivityClosest Star
January Draconids10-24 Jan13/16 Jan  
Eta DraconidsMar 22 - Apri 8Mar 29/31Athebyne
DraconidsOctober 6-10Oct. 9/10Rastaban

Draco Facts


NameDraco
AbbreviationDra
Is a Zodiac Sign No
Brightest StarEltanin
Area1082.952 sq. deg.
Percentage of Night Sky2.63%
Size Position8th
Hemisphere Northern
Site Exoplanet Count149
Meteor Shower Count35
Nearest StarStruve 2398 B
Nearest Star with Exoplanet(s)Edasich
Brightest StarEltanin
Dimmest StarHIP 63340
Furthest StarHIP 57123
Bright Star Count121
Hipparcos Star Count2689
Main Star Count16
Messier Deep Space Object Count0
*Non-Messier Deep Space Object Count2
Bordering / Neighbouring / Surrounding ConstellationsUrsa Minor
Camelopardalis
Ursa Major
Bootes
Hercules
Lyra
Cygnus
Cepheus

*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 Draco


NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Cat's Eye Nebula (NGC 6543)Planetary Nebula3,262 Ly+66d 38` 017h 58m 33s
Spindle Galaxy (NGC5866)Lenticular Galaxy30 Million+55:45:4815h 06h 29m 5
Tadpole GalaxyBarred Spiral Galaxy400 Million+55:25:3216h 6h 3


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