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Man must rise above the Earth, to the top of the atmosphere and beyond, for only then will he fully understand the world in which he lives.
Socrates, 469 - 399 BC

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CORVUS

The Crow

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Corvus - Celestial Atlas by Alexander Jamieson - 1822

It is said that Corvus, the crow, used to have silvery white feathers, and a sweet, musical song. He was the favourite bird of Apollo, and one day Apollo gave the crow his goblet, and asked him to fetch some water. On his way to the stream, the crow saw a fig tree, and stopped to eat some figs. But the figs weren't quite ripe, so the crow waited for the figs to ripen, neglecting his instructions from Apollo. When he finally returned with the water, he made up a story about a fearsome snake that wouldn't let him near the water for a long time. Apollo, being a god, saw through the lie at once, and punished the crow by turning it black, taking away its sweet voice, and putting it into the heavens, on the back of the most fearsome snake of all, Hydra, the many headed water snake, who had battled the mighty Hercules. Apollo also put his goblet (now known as the constellation Crater,) on the back of the snake just out of the crow's reach, to forever remind him why he was being punished. Now for all eternity, the crow rides the back of the giant snake, his long pointed bill perpetually stabbing at the snake, in a futile effort to escape his fate.

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Corvus - May 1, 10:00 PM - Latitude 40° North, Longitude 95° West





Stars of Corvus

Alchiba (RA: 12h08m24.928s DE:-24°43'44.54")

Corvus may be a small constellation, but the five stars that compose the figure of the crow (sometimes referred to as "the sail") are quite bright, and have all possessed names since ancient times. Alchiba is designated as the alpha star in the constellation, although with a magnitude of only 4.02, it is actually the faintest of the five stars that outline the crow, which suggests that in ancient times it might have been much brighter. According to R.H. Allen the star's name comes from the Arabic title for a much larger asterism that once included the crow. In classical illustrations it represents the beak of the crow. The star is an F1V yellow/white main sequence star, only about 48 light years away.

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Kraz in Becvar (RA: 12h34m23.236s DE:-23°23'49.21")

Beta Corvi is named Kraz in Becvar. Its name is taken from the Latin "cras", meaning tomorrow, (which gave rise to the word procrastinate). To Latin speakers the calls of crows and ravens sounded like "cras, cras," tomorrow, tomorrow, except of course for Poe's ominous bird with his tragic nevermore. Since Apollo's fabled Corvus could be thought of as the original procrastinator, for which he paid dearly, the label certainly fits. The full name of the star, Kraz in Becvar, honours the famous Czech astronomer, Antonín Becvár (1901-1965), who was known for his state-of-the-art star charts, and had both a comet and a crater on the Moon named after him. The star is a G5III yellow giant, 140 light years away, with a magnitude of 2.65, making it the second brightest star in the constellation.

Gienah Ghurab (RA: 12h15m48.202s DE:-17°32'30.62")

The brightest star in Corvus is Gamma Corvi, with a magnitude of 2.58. It is named Gienah Ghurab, from the Arabic for wing of the crow. It is a B7IV blue subgiant, about 165 light years away.

Algorab (RA: 12h29m51.634s DE:-16°30'57.66")

Delta Corvi is Algorab, from the Arabic "Al Ghuraab", which simply means the crow. It is an A0V white main sequence star, about 87 light years from Earth, with a magnitude of 2.95.

Minkar (RA: 12h10m07.402s DE:-22°37'11.01")

Epsilon Corvi is Minkar, Arabic for nostril. It is a K2III orange giant, magnitude 3.0, about 303 light years away.


Planets of Corvus

So far two gas giant planets have been found in Corvus. The stars they orbit are very far away and well beyond naked eye visibility. For more information on these and other extrasolar planets, visit NASA's New Worlds Atlas, and The Open Exoplanets Catalogue.



Deep Skies of Corvus

NGC 4361 (RA: 12h24m 30.0s DE:-18°47'00")

In the middle of the constellation is the bright planetary nebula NGC 4361, a bubble of gas thrown off by a dying star. It is a faint object, with a magnitude of only 10.9, and is 3,900 light years from Earth.

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NGC 4361 - Planetary Nebula - Spitzer Space Telescope - August, 2009

The Antennae Galaxies (RA: 12h01m 54.0s DE:-18°52'00")

Very much farther away at a distance of 63 million light years is a spectacular pair of galaxies NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, whose mutual gravitational attraction has pulled them together in a wild, passionate dance that's been going on for 100 million years, as they slowly merge, and become one. They are known as the Antennae Galaxies, or the Ring Tail Galaxies, with a magnitude of 10.3.

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NGC 4038-4039 - The Antennae Galaxies - Bob and Bill Twardy/Adam Block/NOAO/AURA/NSF - October, 2006


A closer look by the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the colourful chaos and violence of hundreds of billions of stars crashing into each other.

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NGC 4038-4039 - Central Region - Hubble Space Telescope - October, 2006

NGC 4027 (RA: 11h59m 30.0s DE:-19°16'00")

Just under the Antennae galaxies is NGC 4027 (Arp22), an unusual spiral galaxy with only one long spiral arm. It has an apparent magnitude of 11.1, and is about 75 million light years away.

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NGC 4027 - European Southern Observatory, Chile - July, 2010







Winter: Orion   Canis Major   Canis Minor   Monoceros   Lepus   Eridanus   Taurus   Auriga   Camelopardalis   Lynx   Gemini   Cancer  
Spring: Hydra   Sextans   Crater   Corvus   Leo   Leo Minor   Ursa Major   Ursa Minor   Canes Venatici   Coma Berenices   Virgo   Bootes  
Summer: Draco   Corona Borealis   Hercules   Ophiuchus   Serpens   Libra   Scorpius   Sagittarius   Scutum   Aquila   Sagitta   Vulpecula   Lyra   Cygnus  
Autumn: Andromeda   Perseus   Pegasus   Cassiopeia   Cepheus   Cetus   Lacerta   Delphinus   Equuleus   Capricornus   Aquarius   Pisces   Aries   Triangulum  
Southern Skies: Centaurus   Crux   Lupus   Corona Australis   Piscis Australis   Sculptor   Tucana   Fornax   Dorado   Columba   Puppis   Carina   Vela  

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