Constellation Auriga (Charioteer)

Auriga
Auriga: IAU Constellation Map [150]

Properties

Auriga is a striking constellation north of Taurus and Gemini and is roughly the shape of a pentagon. This formation shares a star with Taurus: γ Aurigae is also the northern horn of the bull and is recorded as β Tauri, El Nath (the horn). In most atlases one finds this star belonging to Taurus. A few degrees southwest of Capella is a small, pointed triangle, the tip of which points to the north. This formation is known as The Goatling which the Charioteer carries in his arms and is formed by ε, η, and θ Aurigae. [85]

The star Capella forms together with Aldebaran (α Tauri), Rigel (β Orionis), Sirius (α Canis Maior), Procyon (α Canis Minoris) and the two twin stars Castor and Pollux (α and β Geminorum) the winter hexagon. The area of the constellation Auriga is 657 square degrees and the center culminates around midnight on December 9th. [9, 15]

Stars with Proper Names:

  • α Aurigae: Capella, Alhajoth
  • β Aurigae: Menkalinan, Menkalina
  • ε Aurigae: Al Anz, Almaaz
  • ζ Aurigae: Haedi, Haedus, Hoedus I
  • η Aurigae: Hoedus II
  • ι Aurigae: Hassaleh
Data for constellation Auriga [150]
IAU NameAuriga
IAU GenitiveAurigae
IAU Abbr.Aur
English NameCharioteer
Season (47° N)August … April
Right Ascension4h 37m 55s … 7h 30m 57s
Declination27° 53' 29" … 56° 09' 54"
Area657 deg2
Neighbours (N↻)Cam, Per, Tau, Gem, Lyn

Deep-Sky Object Descriptions

Mythology and History

The constellation has been known as the Charioteer since Babylonian times. Two different images are superimposed, reminiscent of two different incidents: It depicts a carter carrying a goat with young billy goats on his shoulders.

The goat is reminiscent of Zeus' earliest youth: At the beginning of the earliest existence, when there was still chaos, an empty space, the origin of all things, the broad-chested earth emerged. She gave birth to Uranus, heaven, so that it would surround her and so that the gods might find a permanent home there one day. She even united with Uranus herself and gave birth to the Titans. Uranos wasn't exactly a loving father, because he hated his children, cast them into the gorges of the earth and was still happy about them. One of the titans, Kronos, who was also called the crooked-minded man, horrified himself on his father with a toothed sickle sword. Uranus lost his manhood and Kronos gained dominion in heaven. Such a deed could not go unpunished and so it was made known to him through a prophecy that his own son would conquer him and deprive him of rule. Kronos, worried about his future, killed and devoured all of his newborn sons.

The nymph Amaltheia, who lived in springs and waters, was well known on the Cretan Ida. She was able to secretly take one of the children away and hid it from his cruel father in the woods. She baptized the child in the name of Zeus. Amaltheia owned a beautiful goat, the mother of two goats. This goat stood out among the dictaean herds because it had high horns bent towards its back and an udder like the one Zeus' nurse had to have. She gave her milk to God; but then she broke off a horn on a tree and was deprived of half of its ornament. The nymph took the horn, wreathed it with fresh green, filled it with fruit and raised it to Zeus' face. When he was in control of heaven, sitting on his father's throne and nothing was stronger than the undefeated Zeus, he turned his wet nurse and the cornucopia, which still bears the name of his mistress, into stars. The brightly shining capella is this goat star and underneath there are two slightly smaller stars in which you can see the goats. [20]

The carter was not a coachman, but rather a leader of a racing car or perhaps a chariot who drove a team of four. Some say it meant Phaethon, who borrowed the sun chariot from his father, the sun god, and in his youthful arrogance almost set the whole earth and also the sky on fire. The traces of fire can still be seen today as a band of the Milky Way and you can see how far the sun car had strayed from its path back then. [20]

In addition to Phaethon, one also believes to see another charioteer in the carter, namely Erichthonius, the son of Hephaestus who was conceived without a mother. Hephaestus was the god of fire and the artful craftsmanship, was the limping son of Zeus and Hera. Athena once came to him, the virgin goddess of war, science and the arts. Hephaestus fell in love with her and tried to rape Athena, who was fighting with all his might. His seed flowed on the earth and the virgin Athena stepped on it with shameful anger. So the goddess of the earth received him and finally gave birth to the boy Erichthonius, whom she later handed over to Athena. This boy had snake feet. Athena raised the child by keeping it in a chest guarded by snakes. He grew up to be a man and became king. Erichthonius invented a chariot because he was ashamed to show his feet. The chariot was almost similar to the sun chariot, and Zeus was so impressed by this invention that he took Erichthonius to the sky as a furman and charioteer. [20, 85]

The Roman astronomical poet Hyginus saw another person in this star of the carter: Myrtilus or Myrtilos. The king of Oinomaos of Pisa had three sons and a daughter named Hippodameia with his wife Sterope. He owned a famous stud farm and was an invincible driver of horse racing cars. King Oinomaos was warned by an oracle that his son-in-law would kill him and so he tried to prevent Hippodameia's marriage. Every young man who tried to get Hippodameia had to go through a chariot race with their father. However, should he be overtaken by the king, he would have to die by the king's spear; so it was agreed. Twelve princes had already been killed and their severed heads adorned the palace gates. Pelops, the son of the Lydian king Tantalus, also wanted to free Hippodameia and asked Poseiden, the Greek god of the seas, the fastest chariot in the world, which could also race over sea waves. Arrived in front of the palace gate and given the gruesome framing of the driveway, his courage failed. So he made use of a ruse: he promised Myrtilus - that was the king's charioteer, who was himself in love with the beautiful Hippodameia - half of his future kingdom and the right to sleep with Hippodameia on their wedding night, if he could in some way Successfully hamper the king's racing car. Myrtilos, inspired by sweet thoughts, secretly removed the pins from the axles of the wheels and replaced them with wax replicas. What happened next is easy to imagine: The king's racing car lost its wheels at full speed and the king was killed in the process. When Myrtilos wanted to claim his right to the wedding night, Pelops pushed him into the sea, where he drowned. Hermes, he was the father of Myrtilus, could not prevent this crime in time; he therefore placed him among the stars as the constellation of the charioteer. [20]

The original Greek name of this constellation was Heniochus (The One Who Holds the Reins). Other names for this constellation were Phaethon, Bellerophon, but also Custos caprarum, i.e. the goat keeper. What is meant is the goat that Zeus once served as a wet nurse. [20]

Catalogs

Yale Bright Star Catalogue, 5th Revised Ed. (Hoffleit+, 1991) [154]
HR B F RA [hms] Dec [dms] vMag spType dMag Sep ["]
1551204 52 38.0+36 42 114.78 K2.5IIIbBa0.4
1577ι304 56 59.6+33 09 582.69 K3II
1592ω404 59 15.4+37 53 254.94 A1V 2.85.1
1599505 00 18.3+39 23 415.95 F5V 3.43.7
1602605 00 23.2+39 39 186.58 R K4I
1605ε705 01 58.1+43 49 242.99 F0Iae+B v6.2207.6
1612ζ805 02 28.7+41 04 333.75 K4II+B8V
1637905 06 40.6+51 35 525.00 F0V 4.490.1
1641η1005 06 30.9+41 14 043.17 B3V
1689μ1105 13 25.7+38 29 044.86 A4Vm
17061405 15 24.4+32 41 165.02 A9IVDel Del 2.914.3
1708α1305 16 41.4+45 59 530.08 G5IIIe+G0III v0.50.0
17261605 18 10.7+33 22 184.54 K2.5IIIbFe-1 5.84.2
17281705 18 18.9+33 46 026.14 B9.5V
1729λ1505 19 08.5+40 05 574.71 G1.5IV-VFe-1 4.9146.6
17341805 19 23.6+33 59 086.49 A7V 5.33.8
17401905 20 00.9+33 57 295.03 A5II
1749ρ2005 21 48.4+41 48 165.23 B3V
17682205 23 22.9+28 56 126.46 B9V s
1773σ2105 24 39.2+37 23 084.99 K4III 7.08.7
1805φ2405 27 38.9+34 28 335.07 K3IIICN+2 3.2206.8
1843χ2505 32 43.7+32 11 314.76 B5Iab
19142605 38 38.1+30 29 335.40 F9III+B9.5V 0.30.2
1971ο2705 45 54.0+49 49 355.47 A2VpCr
1995τ2905 49 10.5+39 10 524.52 G8IIIFe-1 6.149.6
2011υ3105 51 02.4+37 18 204.74 M0+III-IIIbFe-0.5
2012ν3205 51 29.4+39 08 553.97 G9.5III* 7.354.6
2029ξ3005 54 50.8+55 42 254.99 A2V
2077δ3305 59 31.6+54 17 053.72 K0-III 5.8115.4
2088β3405 59 31.7+44 56 511.90 A2IV 8.9184.6
2091π3505 59 56.1+45 56 134.26 M3II e
2095θ3705 59 43.3+37 12 452.62 A0pSi 4.53.5
21013606 00 58.6+47 54 075.73 B9.5pSiFe
21193806 03 18.0+42 54 426.10 K0II
21323906 05 03.4+42 58 545.87 F3V
21434006 06 35.1+38 28 585.36 A4m
21754106 11 36.5+48 42 476.82 H A8V 0.87.7
21764106 11 36.6+48 42 406.09 H A3V 0.87.7
2219κ4406 15 22.7+29 29 534.35 G8.5IIIb
22284206 17 34.7+46 25 276.52 F0V
22394306 18 16.9+46 21 386.38 K2III
22644506 21 46.1+53 27 085.36 F5III
2289ψ14606 24 53.9+49 17 174.91 K5-M0Iab-Ib
23324806 28 34.1+30 29 355.55 F8Ib v
23384706 30 03.0+46 41 085.90 gK4
23984906 35 12.1+28 01 205.27 A0Vnn
24195106 38 39.5+39 23 275.69 K5III
2420ψ35206 38 49.2+39 54 095.20 B8III
24255306 38 23.0+28 59 035.79 B9npEu 0.00.1
2427ψ25006 39 19.9+42 29 204.79 K3III 5.552.1
24385406 39 33.1+28 15 476.03 B7III 1.60.8
2459ψ45506 43 05.0+44 31 285.02 K5III
2483ψ55606 46 44.3+43 34 395.25 G0V 3.436.2
2487ψ65706 47 39.6+48 47 225.22 K0III
2516ψ75806 50 45.9+41 46 535.02 K3III 5.040.9
25395906 53 01.5+38 52 096.12 F2VDel Del v3.922.3
25416006 53 13.4+38 26 176.30 dF5
2547ψ86106 53 57.0+38 30 186.48 B9.5pSi
2568ψ906 56 32.3+46 16 275.87 B8IIIe
26006206 59 02.8+38 03 086.00 K2III
26966307 11 39.3+39 19 144.90 K4III-IIIa
27536407 18 02.2+40 53 005.78 A5Vn
27936507 22 02.6+36 45 385.13 K0III 5.511.4
28056607 24 08.5+40 40 205.19 K1+IIIaCN1

«Revised New General Catalogue and Index Catalogue», Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke, 2021 [277]
NameRADecTypeBmagVmagDimDreyer DescriptionIdentification
NGC 1664 04 51 05.4+43 40 34OCL (III1p)7.618.00Cl, lRi, lC, pLOCL 411
NGC 1724 05 03 33.0+49 29 30*Grp1.00Cl, vS, st + neb?OCL 405
NGC 1778 05 08 05.0+37 01 24OCL (III2p)7.78.00Cl, pC, lRi, iF, st LOCL 429
NGC 1790 05 11 07.2+52 03 30*Grp15.00Cl, group of 8 or 9 st 10
NGC 1798 05 11 39.3+47 41 44OCL (II2m)10.05.00S, Cl or Cl + nebOCL 410, Berkeley 16
NGC 1857 05 20 05.0+39 20 36OCL (II2m)7.010.00Cl, pRi, pC, st 7…OCL 428
NGC 1883 05 25 54.1+46 29 25OCL (II3p)12.05.00Cl, vF, pRi, pC, iFOCL 417
NGC 1893 05 22 45.6+33 24 52OCL (II2mn)7.510.00Cl, L, Ri, lCOCL 439, in IC 410, LBN 807
NGC 1896 05 27 06.0+29 21 40*Grp10.00Cl, vL, Ri, vlC, st 9…12
NGC 1907 05 28 04.5+35 19 32OCL (II1m)8.25.00Cl, pRi, pC, R, st 9…12OCL 434
NGC 1912 05 28 43.0+35 51 18OCL (II2r)6.415.00Cl, B, vL, vRi, iF, st L & SM 38, OCL 433
NGC 1931 05 31 25.7+34 14 42EN+OCL10.1vB, L, R, B *** in MLBN 810, OCL 441
NGC 1960 05 36 17.7+34 08 27OCL (II3m)6.010.00Cl, B, vL, vRi, lC, st 9…11 scM 36, OCL 445
NGC 1985 05 37 47.8+31 59 20RN12.70.68cF, S, R, psbMPK 176+0.1, CS=13.6, not a PN
NGC 2013 05 44 01.6+55 47 22OCLCl, vlRi, st 11
NGC 2099 05 52 18.3+32 33 11OCL (II1r)5.615.00Cl, Ri, pCM, st L & SM 37, OCL 451
NGC 2126 06 02 32.9+49 51 57OCL (II1p)10.26.00Cl, not Ri, * 7 m northOCL 418
NGC 2165 06 11 04.0+51 40 42OCL13.412.76.00Cl, pL, poor, st 11
NGC 2192 06 15 17.4+39 51 19OCL (III1p)10.95.00Cl, cL, C, iF, st vSOCL 437
NGC 2208 06 22 34.6+51 54 36Gx (S0)13.812.81.60 × 1.1pF, pS, lEUGC 3452, MCG 9-11-10, CGCG 260-7, NPM1G +51.0053
NGC 2240 06 33 10.5+35 15 02OCLCl, pL, P, vlC, st 7, 10…15
NGC 2242 06 34 07.4+44 46 40PN15.115.00.37eeF, vS, R, F * nfPK 170+15.1, CGCG 204-5
NGC 2281 06 48 17.8+41 04 44OCL (I3p)5.425.00Cl, pRi, vlC, st pLOCL 446
NGC 2303 06 56 17.4+45 29 36Gx (E0)13.612.61.50 × 1.5eF, vS, R, sev st nrUGC 3603, MCG 8-13-31, CGCG 234-30, NPM1G +45.0083
NGC 2387 07 29 26.1+36 46 08*2pB, S, stellar
IC 397 05 01 06.5+40 25 30*Grp1.00F, S
IC 403 05 15 15.8+39 58 22*2eF, eS, R
IC 405 05 16 29.4+34 21 22EN10.030.00 × 20.0* 6.7 with pB, vL nebLBN 795, CED 42, in Sh2-229 (Flaming Star nebula)
IC 406 05 17 48.8+39 53 08*GrpeF neb or eS neb Cl
IC 410 05 22 45.0+33 24 48EN+OCL55.00 × 45.0Dif, many st invLBN 807, OCL 439, around NGC1893
IC 417 05 28 05.9+34 25 26EN+OCL13.00 × 10.0vL, dif, * 6 invLBN 804, CED 46, Sh2-234
IC 419 05 30 52.0+30 07 05*4pB, L, mE
IC 425 05 37 12.0+32 25 00NFF, vvL
IC 436 05 53 39.9+38 37 42*3eF
IC 439 05 56 42.0+32 01 00NFeeL, eE 150° ±
IC 2120 05 19 10.3+38 11 06NFeFComet Spitaler 1890!
IC 2149 05 56 23.9+46 06 19PN11.210.60.57Planetary, stellarPK 166+10.1, CS=10.5
IC 2168 06 33 47.7+44 41 10*2Cl, S, F neby
IC 2170 06 34 05.0+44 41 20NFeF, S, r, * 13 spp 0'.8
IC 2190 07 29 54.3+37 27 06Gx (SBbc)14.814.00.90 × 0.5F, pS, difUGC 3880, MCG 6-17-13, CGCG 177-26

References

9«Drehbare Sternkarte SIRIUS» von H. Suter-Haug; Hallwag-Verlag, Bern
15«Hartung's Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes» by David Malin and David J. Frew; Melbourne University Press 1995; ISBN 0-522-84553-3
20«Sternbilder und ihre Mythen» von Gerhard Fasching; Zweite, verbesserte Auflage; Springer Verlag Wien, New York; ISBN 3-211-82552-5 (Wien); ISBN 0-387-82552-5 (New York)
85The Starry Sky: Auriga by Deborah Byrd; Astronomy 12/95, p.69
150IAU: The Constellations, 11. Oktober 2020; iau.org/public/themes/constellations
154Yale Bright Star Catalog, 15. Oktober 2020; tdc-www.harvard.edu/catalogs/bsc5.html
277«Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; klima-luft.de/steinicke (2021-02-17)