Canis Major Constellation History, Location, How To View

Canis Major Constellation: History, Location, How to View

If you love to learn about the galaxy, planets and stars, you will enjoy knowing about the Constellation of Canis Major. This constellation represents a giant dog that follows Orion. Canis Major contains the bright night sky star named Sirius.

It has some significant deep-sky objects like NGC 2207 and IC 2163 (the colliding spiral galaxies), Messier 41 (the open cluster), NGC 2359 (the emission nebula referred as the Helmet of Thor), and Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy.

History of Canis Major Constellation

The creation of Canis Major dates back to 1100 BC. The Babylonians had named its brightest star Sirius KAK.SI.DI in the old Mesopotamia. It was considered as an arrow that aims towards the Orion. Moreover, the Canis Major’s southern stars and a portion of Puppis were considered like a bow and they had named it BAN in the “Three Stars Each tablet”.

Later on, in the Babylonian’s astrology and astronomy compendium titled MUL.APIN, the Sirius arrow had links with the warrior Ninurta while the bow was connected to Ishtar, Enlil’s daughter. Afterwards, the arrow and the bow were replaced with the dog by the ancient Greeks.

This constellation is also among the 48 catalogued constellations of German astronomer Plotemy and was catalogues for the first time in the 2nd century.

What is the English Name for Canis Major Constellation?

The English word for Canis Major is “Greater Dog“.

What is the Greek Mythological Significance of Canis Major Constellation?

The myth associated with this constellation relates to the dog. It is about the great Laelaps dog which follows the hunter, Orion. The Laelaps is world’s fastest dog which can catch everything it pursues.

In the myth, the god Zeus had gifted Laelaps and javelin to Europa. But the gift was considered cursed and unfortunate because Europa was accidentally killed by her husband named Cephalus while hunting with the gifted javelin.

Afterwards, Cephalus took the Laelaps to the Greek province Thebes in Boeotia which is at the north of Athens for hunting a trouble-making fox. The fox had the same qualities as Laelaps and was destined for not getting caught. When the dog saw the fox, he started running. But due to their rates, neither dog stopped, nor the fox gets caught. Therefore, to end the race, Zeus turned both the fox and dog to stone and placed Laelaps in the night sky.

How to Find Canis Major Constellation?

Follow the steps below for finding Canis Major:

  • Locate the Orion constellation
  • Find the three stars in Orion that forms Orion’s belt
  • The belt is to Sirius’ southeast
  • Find Sirius which is Canis Major’s neck

What is the Area of Canis Major Constellation?

This constellation has an area of 380.118 square degrees.

What Quadrant is Canis Major Constellation in?

Canis Major is in SQ2, the second quadrant of the southern hemisphere.

What Latitudes is Canis Major Constellation Visible in?

It can be found between the latitudes of +60° and -90°. It is surrounded by:

What Type of Telescope if best for Viewing Canis Major Constellation?

Since the Canis Major contains the brightest star of the night sky, you do not need large telescopes for spotting this constellation. You can watch it through small telescopes and even a pair of binoculars.


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