Canis Minor Constellation History, Location, How To View

Canis Minor Constellation: History, Location, How to View

If you know about Canis Major, you will also know Canis Minor. Both are related to the Greek mythology of dog and one of the 88 recognized constellations.

Canis Minor is not very large and ranks 71st in size. Moreover, it neither has any Messier objects nor any stars with known planets. However, Canis Minor contains Procyon, which is one of the brightest night sky stars and Luyten’s Star, which is very close to planet Earth.

History of Canis Minor Constellation

Canis Minor has its origin from Mesopotamia. Around 1100 BC, its two-star Gomeisa and Procyon were referred to as twins or “MASH.TAB.BA”. Later MUL.APIN applied this name to Orionis pairs of Pi3, Pi4 and Zeta, Xi.

Moreover, Canis Minor was also called DAR.LUGAL by Babylonians and “Tarlugallu” in Akkadian astronomy. This constellation is also one of Ptolemy’s 48 formulated constellations defined in its Almagest in the 2nd century.

What is the English name for Canis Minor Constellation?

The Canis Minor is called “Lesser Dog” in English.

What is the Greek Mythological Significance of Canis Minor Constellation?

In Greek mythology, this constellation represents Maera, which was Icarius’ dog. Icarius was a wine-maker whose friends accused him of poisoning them and killed him. His dog, Maera, found Icarius’ body and informed Erigone, his daughter. Erigone and dog both took their lives out of grief. Later on, when Zeus heard of the news, he placed their images among the stars.

However, Latin writer Hyginus confused the myth. In his writing, he wrote that after killing Icarius, his murderers went to Ceos island where they were punished with severe sickness imposed on the whole island. Hyginus attributed it to Sirius, the searing Dog Star instead of Procyon. Facing severe disease in Ceos, island’s king Aristaeus sought help from god Apollo who suggested him to pray to Zeus. Aristaeus did as Apollo asked and in return, Zeus sent relief in the island through Etesian winds.

While in another myth, Canis Minor is referred to as “Teumessian Fox” which could never be outrun. Zeus turned both the fox and its hunter Laelaps (who was destined never to miss its prey, represented through Canis Major) into stone. After turning them to stone, Zeus placed them both among stars, the fox as Canis Minor and dog as Canis Major.

How to Find Canis Minor Constellation?

Follow the steps below to locate Canis Minor:

  • Locate Orion. The Brightest constellation in the night sky.
  • Draw an imaginary line starting from Orion to its southwest area.
  • Drag the line until you find the group of a star with the diamond shape.
  • The brightest star in the group will be Procyon, the most shining star in Canis Minor.

What is the Area of Canis Minor Constellation?

The area of this constellation is 183.367 square degrees.

What Quadrant is Canis Minor Constellation in?

Canis Minor is situated in the 2nd quadrant of northern hemisphere denoted as NQ2.

What Latitude is Canis Minor Constellation Visible in?

It can be viewed at the latitude of +90° and -75° and has borders with:

What Type of Telescope is Best for Viewing Canis Minor Constellation?

To view Canis minor, you can use binoculars or simple telescopes. However, with binoculars and simple telescopes, you will not be able to have a detailed and clear view of this constellation. Therefore, it is better to use a 3-inch telescope and use it at 50x magnification.


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