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The Phoenix

Constellation of the southern sky

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Constellation FamilyBayer
Celestial QuadrantsSQ1, SQ4
Right Ascension23h28 to 02h26
Declination-39.2° to -57.7°
Area (sq deg)469
Brightest StarAnkaa
Optimum VisibilityOctober (Usually visible from southern latitudes)
NotesThis minor constellation is not rich in bright stars or important deep sky objects. It contains a faint galaxy known as the Phoenix Dwarf Galaxy, a small and comparatively nearby island of stars lying some 1.4 million light years from the Milky Way.
Map of Phoenix Map of Phoenix

Near the River's End, the star Achernar in Eridanus, rises the constellation of the Phoenix. This star-group contains a number of noticeable stars, but little else of interest.


To Arab astronomers, this group of stars represented a boat, moored to the banks of the River Eridanus. Its description as a phoenix, the mythical bird that could rise from its own ashes, is comparatively recent. It seems to date from the late 1500's, and was recorded by Bayer in 1603.


By far the most prominent of the Phoenix' stars is Ankaa, or Alpha Phoenicis, whose magnitude of +2.4 makes it far more noticeable than any of the other stars in the group. Ankaa is an orange giant star, a little under eighty light years from Earth.

Ankaa is almost a magnitude brighter than the next brightest members of the constellation: Beta and Gamma Phoenicis are both variable giant stars, nearly three times as far from the Solar System as Ankaa.


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