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The Saucepan

Constellation FamilyBayer
Celestial QuadrantSQ4
Right Ascension18h45 to 21h28
Declination-62.2° to -72.9°
Area (sq deg)93
Brightest StarBeta Pavonis
Optimum VisibilityJuly / August (Usually visible from southern latitudes)
NotesThe Saucepan formation in Pavo is composed of six stars, none brighter than third magnitude. From east to west, these are Zeta, Lamba, Epsilon, Delta, Beta and Gamma Pavonis. The brightest of these is Beta Pavonis (magnitude +3.42), while the faintest is Gamma Pavonis (magnitude +4.23).
Map of the Saucepan in Pavo Map of the Saucepan in Pavo

There are two patterns of stars in the sky known as the 'Saucepan'. One of these combines the stars of Orion's Sword and Belt in one of the most distinctive parts in the sky; for more on that asterism, see here. The other Saucepan is rather less striking, containing a collection of rather faint stars in Pavo, to the south of Peacock, that constellation's brightest member.

The stars of the Saucepan form a rough quadrangle southward of Peacock, with a further pair of stars extending eastward to form the Saucepan's handle. None of these stars are particularly bright (none exceed magnitude +3.4), but in combination it is nonetheless useful, because each of the sides of Saucepan's bowl forms a pair of 'pointers' angled approximately toward the Southern Celestial Pole.

While the Northern Pole is conveniently marked by a bright Pole Star, the Southern Pole has no equivalent, and so the form of the Saucepan provides a way of approximating its position. An imaginary line through the pair Delta and Epsilon Pavonis leads southwards, as does another through Lambda and Zeta Pavonis. The point at which those lines converge is not exactly at the Pole, but close enough to provide an approximate navigational guide.

Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas


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