Constellation Sextans (Sextant)

Sextans: IAU Constellation Map [150]


Sextans is a small and inconspicuous constellation south of Regulus in Leo with an area of 314 square degrees. It only consists of 4th and 5th magnitude stars and each culminates around midnight on February 21. [9, 15]

Data for constellation Sextans [150]
IAU NameSextans
IAU GenitiveSextantis
IAU Abbr.Sex
English NameSextant
Opposition19 February
Season (47° N)December … May
Right Ascension09h 41m 05s … 10h 51m 30s
Declination-11° 39' 44" … +06° 25' 58"
Area314 deg2
Neighbours (N↻)Leo, Hya, Crt

Deep-Sky Object Descriptions


Constellation Sextans Uraniae
Constellation Sextans Uraniae: Illustration from «Prodromus Astronomiae» by Johannes Hevelius, 1690. Mirrored view from «outside of the celestial sphere» [19]


The mayor of Danzig, Jan Hevelcke (Latinized Hevelius) introduced some new names for places in the sky where there are few stars in his book Prodromus Astronomiae in 1690. This endeavor can be explained by the fact that there were no internationally recognized limits of the constellation systems at that time, which resulted in a lot of confusion. Therefore one wanted to fill up all these empty places with more small constellations. This is how the symbol of the sextant got into the star maps. Hevelius himself knew how to make sextants and also used them to measure the positions of the stars after the telescope had long been invented. [7, 21]


  • [7] «Der grosse Kosmos-Himmelsführer» von Ian Ridpath und Wil Tirion; Kosmos Verlag; ISBN 3-440-05787-9
  • [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
  • [19] «Prodromus Astronomiae» Johannes Hevelius, 1690; DOI:10.3931/e-rara-456
  • [21] «Taschenatlas der Sternbilder» von Josef Klepesta und Antonin Rükl; Verlag Werner Dausien; ISBN 3-7684-2384-0
  • [150] IAU: The Constellations, 11. Oktober 2020;