Canis Major: The Great Dog

CANE-iss (CAN-iss) MAY-jer

Canis Major, The Greater Dog

Canis Major as depicted by Johannes Hevelius in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia (1687). Source image provided by www.RareMaps.com — Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc.

Canis Major Constellation Profile
Abbreviation: CMa Genitive: Canis Majoris Origin: Ancient
Location: Southern Hemisphere Size/Area: 380 sq. deg. Size Rank: 43
On Meridian: 9pm February 15th Best View (North): Winter Best View (South):
Bordering Constellations: Monoceros, Lepus, Columba, Puppis

 

The Myth Behind the Constellation Canis Major

There have been a number of mythical dogs tied to Canis Major.  One is that Canis Major, “the great dog”, and Canis Minor, “the little dog”, are the hunting companions of Orion, “the hunter”.

In another myth, Canis Major is Laelaps, a dog so swift that it was destined that no pray would outrun it.  He was used to hunt down the Teumessian Fox, a beast so sly that it was destined to never be caught.  On-and-on the chase went, the fox unable to outrun the dog and the dog unable to catch the fox.  Finally, Zeus put an end to this paradox by turning them both to stone.

Canis Major Constellation Points of Interest

Interesting Objects in the Constellation Canis Major
Name Messier NGC Type Visibility
M41 NGC 2287 Open Cluster Naked-Eye

 

Bright Stars in Canis Major

These are the stars in Canis Major with a minimum magnitude of 3.0.

Name Bayer Name Magnitude Color Luminosity Distance
Sirius Alpha Canis Majoris -1.42  White 27 suns 8.6 ly
Adhara Epsilon Canis Majoris 1.50  Blue 18,079 suns 431 ly
Wezen Delta Canis Majoris 1.83  Yellow-White 53,819 suns 1791 ly
Mirzam Beta Canis Majoris 1.98  Blue-White 22,844 suns 499 ly
Aludra Eta Canis Majoris 2.45  Blue 139,337 suns 3196 ly