The Camelopardalis Constellation

The Camelopardalis Constellation.

The Camelopardalis ConstellationCamelopardalis or the Giraffe constellation is a large, faint grouping of stars in the northern sky. Taken apart, the word Camelopardalis means camel (Greek kamēlos) and leopard (pardalis). The giraffe was called the “camel-leopard” because it had a long neck like a camel and a body with spots, like a leopard. The constellation was introduced in 1612 (or 1613) by Petrus Plancius. Camelopardalis is the 18th largest constellation in the night sky, occupying an area of 757 square degrees. It is located in the second quadrant of the northern hemisphere and can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -10°, right ascension 6 hours and declination 70 degrees. It is best observed during February at 9.00pm. The neighbouring constellations are Auriga, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, Lynx, Perseus, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor. Camelopardalis belongs to the Ursa Major family of constellations, along with Boötes, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, Corona Borealis, Draco, Leo Minor, Lynx, Ursa Major, and Ursa Minor.

The brightest stars are only of the fourth magnitude. Beta Camelopardalis is the brightest star in the constellation. It is a binary star with a yellow G-type supergiant for the primary component. It is approximately 1,000 light years distant and has an apparent magnitude of 4.03. CS Camelopardalis, the second brightest star in Camelopardalis, is also a binary. It consists of a blue-white B-type supergiant and a magnitude 8.7 star located 2.9 arc seconds away. The star is located in the reflection nebula vdB 14. CS Camelopardalis A is an Alpha Cygni type variable star, one that exhibits non-radial pulsations (which means that some portions of the star’s surface expand while others contract), with luminosity varying from magnitude 4.19 to 4.23. The star is approximately 3,000 light years distant. Sigma 1694 Camelopardalis, or Struve 1694, is a binary star composed of a white A-type subgiant with a magnitude of 5.3, 300 light years from Earth, and a spectroscopic binary that consists of two A-type main sequence stars. Struve 1694 represents the head of the giraffe. VZ Camelopardalis is an M-type red giant approximately 470 light years distant. It is a semi-regular variable star with a mean apparent magnitude of 4.92. Its luminosity varies from 4.80 to 4.96 with a period of 23.7 days. Other variable stars apart from VZ Camelopardalis are U Camelopardalis and Mira variables T Camelopardalis, X Camelopardalis, and R Camelopardalis. RU Camelopardalis is one of the brighter Type II Cepheids visible in the night sky. In 2011 a supernova was discovered in the constellation.

The Camelopardalis Constellation

Camelopardalis is in the part of the celestial sphere facing away from the galactic plane. Accordingly, many distant galaxies are visible within its borders. NGC 2403 is located approximately 12 million light-years from Earth with a redshift of 0.00043. It is an outlying member of the M81 Group, a group of galaxies, including M81 and M82, located in the constellation Ursa Major. The group lies within the Virgo Supercluster. NGC 2403 was the first galaxy discovered beyond our local group that contained known Cepheid variables. Two supernovae were also reported in the galaxy in the last century: SN 1954J and SN 2004dj. It is classified as being between an elliptical and a spiral galaxy because it has faint arms and a large central bulge. NGC 2403 was first discovered by the 18th-century astronomer William Herschel. It has an integrated magnitude of 8.0 and is approximately 0.25° long.

NGC 1502 is a magnitude 6.9 open cluster about 3,000 light years from Earth. It has about 45 bright members and features a double star of magnitude 7.0 at its centre called Struve 485. NGC 1502 is also associated with Kemble’s Cascade. Kemble’s Cascade is an asterism formed by more than 20 stars between magnitude 5 and 10 that form a straight line in the sky. The line stretches over a distance of five moon diameters and ends at an open star cluster, NGC 1502. The asterism was named after Father Lucian J. Kemble, a Franciscan Friar who discovered it and wrote a letter to Walter Scott Houston describing the sight as “a beautiful cascade of faint stars tumbling from the northwest down to the open cluster NGC 1502.” Houston named the asterism Kemble’s Cascade in his “Deep Sky Wonders” column in Sky and Telescope in 1980.

NGC 2366 is an irregular galaxy with an apparent magnitude of 11.4 The galaxy contains a star-forming region, NGC 2363.

NGC 1569 is a dwarf irregular galaxy with an apparent magnitude of 11.9. It is approximately 11 million light years distant. The galaxy is notable for the two superstar clusters which it contains. Both clusters have had star-forming activity but, while one cluster (located in the northwest region of the galaxy) mostly contains young stars, ones formed less than 5 million years ago, but also some older red stars, the other cluster (located near the galaxy’s centre) contains mostly old stars; red giants and supergiants.

IC 342 is one of the brightest two galaxies in the IC 342/Maffei Group of galaxies. IC 342 is another intermediate spiral galaxy in the constellation Camelopardalis. It has an apparent magnitude of 9.1 and is approximately 10.7 million light years distant. The galaxy was discovered in 1895 by the British astronomer William Frederick Denning. IC 342 lies close to the galactic equator and is obscured by a lot of interstellar dust, which makes it a difficult object to observe.

MS0735.6+7421 is a galaxy cluster with a redshift of 0.216, located 2.6 billion light-years from Earth. It is unique for its intracluster medium, which emits X-rays at a very high rate. This galaxy cluster features two cavities 600,000 light-years in diameter, caused by its central supermassive black hole, which emits jets of matter. MS0735.6+7421 is one of the largest and most distant examples of this phenomenon.

Tombaugh 5 is a fairly dim open cluster in Camelopardalis. It has an overall magnitude of 8.4 and is located 5,800 light-years from Earth. It is a Shapley class c and Trumpler class III 1 r cluster, meaning that it is irregularly shaped and appears loose. It has more than 100 stars which do not vary widely in brightness, mostly being of the 15th and 16th magnitude.

The annual May meteor shower Camelopardalids from comet 2009P/LINEAR have a radiant in Camelopardalis. Meteor Activity Outlook for November 25-December 1, 2017: During this period the moon will reach its first quarter phase on Sunday, November 26th. At this time the half-illuminated moon will lie 90 degrees east of the sun and will set near 2300 (11 pm) local standard time (LST). The moon will interfere with evening observing but will set before the more active morning hours arrive. Toward the end of this period, the waxing gibbous moon will remain in the sky most of the night, obscuring all but the brighter meteors.

Credit: Constellation Guide, Wikipedia.