Lupus, the wolf, is often referred to as "The Victim", the hapless animal traditionally shown on its back, being skewered by Chiron, the Centaur, in the constellation Centaurus, with which it is invariably connected. To the ancient Greeks, it was known as "Therium", to the Romans, "Bestia", both terms simply meaning the beast. It was ultimately identified as a wolf by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy.
There are no named stars in Lupus. The brightest star is Alpha Lupi, with a magnitude of 2.30. It is a very hot B2IV blue subgiant with a surface temperature of 21,600 degrees K. It is far away at a distance of 550 light years.
The second brightest star is Beta Lupi, just as it should be, with a magnitude of 2.68. Like Alpha Lupi, it is a very hot blue star, another B2IV blue subgiant, with a surface temperature of 22,659 degrees K, at a distance of 465 light years.
There are only three stars in Lupus with confirmed planetary systems, and they are all far away and beyond visual range, and the planets discovered so far are all gas giants. For more information on these and other extrasolar planets, visit NASA's New Worlds Atlas, and The Open Exoplanets Catalogue.
Lupus is home to several deep sky wonders. The most famous of these is SN 1006, the brightest supernova ever seen. It occurred on May 1, 1006, and was seen all over the world, from China to Europe. With the sole exception of the Moon, it was brighter than anything else in the sky, including the brilliant planet Venus. It was visible during the day for several weeks, and visible to the naked eye for more than two years before finally fading away. A thousand years later, we are left with a spectacular expanding cloud of gas, known as a supernova remnant.
In 2006, on the 1000 year anniversary of the supernova explosion of 1006, the Hubble Space Telescope captured a segment of the nebula's outside shell in unprecedented detail.
The Hubble Space Telescope also captured a stunning view of the plantary nebula NGC 5882. Although it appears as a planetary disk through the lens of a small telescope, Hubble reveals the nebula's true nature as an expanding cloud of gas given off by the death throes of a star similar to our Sun. The nebula is 60 light years across, and about 7,000 light years away, with a magnitude of 10.5.
Lupus also contains another planetary nebula, IC 4406, commonly known as The Retina Nebula. It is about 1,900 light years away, with a magnitude of 11.0.
Lupus also contains the globular cluster, NGC 5986. At magnitude 7.6 it is a good target for a small telescope.
|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|