Auriga Constellation History, Location, How To View

Auriga Constellation: History, Location, How to View

If you have basic knowledge of astronomy, you will know that there are 88 constellations in the universe and Auriga is one of them. In Latin, the word Auriga translates to “the charioteer”. It was named after the shape of its major stars which is like charioteer’s pointed helmet.

The first catalogue of Auriga was done in the 2nd century by Ptolemy, a Greek astronomer. This constellation has the 6th brightest star in the sky named Capella. Like Aries, Auriga also contains numerous deep-sky objects which include three open-star clusters the Messier 36, 37, and 38 etc.

History of Auriga Constellation

Auriga stars’ first record as constellation was in Mesopotamia which was called GAM. It represented a crook or scimitar. Alternatively, this figure was named MUL.GAM or Gamlum in MUL.APIN though, this might have just represented Capella or the modern constellation. Auriga’s crook stood for a shepherd or goat-herd.

Auriga was formed from the majority of modern constellation stars including all the bright star except Elnath. Later, another constellation was created by Bedouin astronomers which represented groups of animals with every star representing one animal and Auriga’s stars comprised of goats’ herd. Afterwards, this became base for Greek mythological.

What is the English Name for Auriga Constellation?

The English name for Auriga is “Charioteer“.

What is the Greek Mythological Significance of Auriga Constellation?

In Greek mythology, Auriga is identified with King of Athens named Erichthonius and Hephaestus, who was the son of the god of fire. Erichthonius imitated chariot of the god of the sun by becoming the first person who tamed and harnessed four horses to a chariot. This impressed Zeus and rewarded Erichthonius by placing him among the stars.

Another myth states that Auriga symbolizes Hephaestus, the god of lame. He built the chariot to make travelling easier for himself.

In one more myth, Myrtilus is the charioteer who is the son of Hermes. He served Oenomaus, the King of Pisa. Oenomaus had a daughter named Hippodamia, and he had decided not to get her married to any suitors. The King would challenge them to a chariot race.

Nobody survived the race with Myrtilus driving chariot of King until one day when the son of Tantalus Pelops, asked for hands for King’s daughter. Hippodamia and Pelops loved each other; therefore, she requested Myrtilus to let Pelops win. Despite Myrtilus’ love for King’s daughter, he obeyed her and did something with the wheels of the chariot.

The wheels fell off during the race, and the King was thrown off and killed. After winning the race, Pelops betrayed Myrtilus and threw him into the sea. Myrtilus then cursed Pelops’s house before drowning. And Hermes, Myrtilus’ father placed the image of his son in the stars.

How to Find Auriga Constellation?

For locating Auriga, follow the steps discussed below:

  • For locating Auriga, the easiest way is through Orion. Orion is near to a cluster of Pleiades star. It is a line made of three bright stars. If you find Orion, you will easily spot Auriga.
  • If you find Orion, you will discover Taurus immediately above it.
  • Afterwards, if you move upwards, you will find stars of the pentagon shape. The brightest star among those pentagon-shaped stars will be Capella which is the most shining star of Auriga.

What is the Area of Auriga Constellation?

Auriga has an area of 657.438 square degrees in the northern hemisphere.

What Quadrant is Auriga Constellation in?

Aries is in NQ2, the 2nd quadrant in the northern hemisphere.

What Latitudes is Auriga Constellation Visible in?

The Auriga constellation can be found in the latitude between +90° and -40°. Its neighbours are:

  • Andromeda
  • Cassiopeia
  • Cepheus
  • Cetus
  • Lacerta
  • Pegasus
  • Perseus
  • Triangulum

What Type of Telescope if best for Viewing Auriga Constellation?

To locate Auriga quickly, use Telescope reflector aperture of 114mm (4.5″) with a focal length of 900mm and eyepiece (1.25″) of 17mm.


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