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Draco, The Dragon Constellation

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. The constellation gets its name as it 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.

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 brightest star in Draco is Eltanin. 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.

Draco Star and Deep Space Object Count

The number of stars that have been catalogued as part of the Hipparcos Star Catalogue from Draco is 2689. The number of stars that are of magnitude 6.0 or lower in the constellation is 121. The number of stars in the constellation that make up the outline is 16.

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.

Stars of Interest

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 can be located in the constellation is HIP 57123 which is located about 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 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

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.

Constellation Legend

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

There are 35 Meteor Showers that occur during the year within this constellation based on information gathered from Adam Mickiewicz University (Poland). The ones listed as the ones I've been able to find a date range for. For others if you have the time, you can visit the AMU site, obtains the SL value then use IMO tables to calculate the date. A lot of the Meteor Showers are weak and you need to do a lot of stargazing to spot them.

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
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.


Draco Constellation Map


Draco Constellation Star Map

The map was generated using Night Vision, an awesome free application by Brian Simpson.



List of Deep Space Objects (Galaxies, Nebulas, Supernovas, etc) in Draco


NameTypeDistanceDeclinationRight Ascension
Spindle Galaxy (NGC5866)Lenticular Galaxy30 Million+55:45:4815h 06h 29m 5
Tadpole GalaxyBarred Spiral Galaxy400 Million+55:25:3216h 6h 3

Meteor Showers

Draconids Meteor Shower


Max Activity Date08 Oct
Activity PeriodOctober 6-10
Declination54
Solar Longitude195.4
Alpha Radiant262
Speed20
Zenith Hourly RateVar

January Draconids Meteor Shower


Max Activity Date13 Jan
Activity Period10-24 Jan

Eta Draconids Meteor Shower


Max Activity Date29 Mar
Activity PeriodMar 22 - Apri 8


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