Canis Major

Interesting Facts About The Constellation Canis Major
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It emits about a thousand times more visible light than Sirius does, so if it were moved to the same distance as Sirius, it would look about times brighter than Sirius does.

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Because the surface of Adhara is extremely hot, the star emits more ultraviolet energy than visible light. If our eyes were tuned to the ultraviolet, Adhara would outshine every other star in the night sky. One interesting sight in Canis Major is a star cluster known as M41 , which is about 2, light-years away.

Name and Meaning:

M; Neufeld, D. There are several deep-space object DSOs in Canis Major that will captivate the attention of any serious astronomer for hours on end. A; Menten, K. Our editors will review what you've submitted, and if it meets our criteria, we'll add it to the article. Obsolete constellations including Ptolemy's Argo Navis. The Big Dog. It is a yellow-white supergiant of spectral type F8Iab and magnitude 1.

It's visible to the unaided eye as a faint smudge of light below Sirius. Binoculars or a small telescope reveal a swarm of several dozen stars. Skip to main content.

Named Stars

Canis Major is a constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere. In the second century, it was included in Ptolemy's 48 constellations, and is counted among. Canis Major is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name means “the greater dog” in Latin. Canis Major represents the bigger dog following Orion, the hunter in.

Canis Major loyally follows its mythical master, Orion, across the southern skies of winter. Although not very bright, this is one the largest stars in the sky.

Canis Major Facts and Description

It is 1, times wider than the sun, but its mass is less than 20 times that of our star. VY Canis Majoris is a very cool red star, with a surface temperature of about 5, degrees Fahrenheit 3, degrees Celsius — more than 4, degrees F cooler than the sun.

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Canis Major, and its neighbor Puppis to the east, contain many interesting open clusters, as this is one of the richest parts of the Milky Way. My spell check keeps changing "Puppis" into "Puppies," which seems appropriate near a large dog, but in fact "Puppis" refers to the poop deck of the ship Argo Navis. This was once a large constellation, later broken up into a number of smaller constellations representing the components of the ship: Puppis the Poop Deck , Vela the Sail , Pyxis the Compass , and Carina the Keel.

This cluster is a fine sight in binoculars or a small telescope.

VY Canis Majoris

The core collapse of the star happens so quickly, that the gamma rays produced can decompose the nuclei of heavy elements such as iron inside the star. As neutrinos escape, the process is accelerated; causing protons and electrons to squeeze together, producing more neutrons and neutrinos — because the core now consists of almost no electrons, the neutrons can pack together closer and closer until they can go no tighter.

In a regular supernova, this extremely dense ball could become a neutron star or a pulsar. But the unusually high mass of VY CMa would probably result in the formation of a rogue black hole, capable of spitting out intense beams of gamma radiation. These beams could effectively wipe out any cellular life in nearby solar systems.


As for VY Canis Majoris, we can only wait and see what will happen, but it is thought that the spectacle would shine so brightly that we would be able to see it during daytime here on Earth. It is a perfect example of how the same laws of physics we live by can create almost unbelievable objects of wonder.

To see several other celestial objects that rival the wonder of this star, see our article: Four of the Largest Objects in the Observable Universe.

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