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Octans

Quick Facts

Name:Octans
AHK-tahnz
Meaning:Octant
Abbreviation:Oct
Genitive:Octantis
Visible in Latitudes:-5° thru -90°
Viewing Season:All year (circumpolar)
Best Seen In:October, 9:00 pm
Transit Date:August 7
Right Ascension:21.31 hours
Declination:-83.8 degrees
Area:291.045 sq. degrees

Star Diagram

Star Diagram: Octans

About Octans

Octans was named by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille during his stay at the Cape of Good Hope between 1751 and 1752. Octans is the constellation which contains the South Celestial Pole. Unlike Ursa Minor's Polaris, there is no bright star near the South Pole. The Arabs knew of Octans and thought it had healing powers similiar to Ursa Minor, if the observer intentently observed the constellation.

Lacaille created this constellation to commemorate the octant, which was invented by John Hadley in 1730. In fact, the full name of the constellation is "Octans Hadleianus". The Octant is a navigational tool used to determine the altitude of a star, and thus one's latitude on the Earth. The octant was used to measure the position of Polaris innumerable times in the early years of celestial navigation. In later years, the octant was replaced by the sextant (which also has a constellation, Sextans, named after it).

Named Stars

 
NameStar
Polaris AustralisSigma Oct

Neighboring Constellations

CassiopeiaMensa
ChamaeleonPavo
HydrusTucana
Indus
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