The Constellation Draco

by Dominic Ford
Draco Draco
The constellation Draco. Roll mouse over to see labels.
Source: Stellarium.

Draco is a large but not particularly prominent constellation which snakes its way around the north celestial pole, encircling Ursa Minor on three sides.

The name ‘Draco’ is Latin for ‘dragon’, and is identified as the dragon employed by Zeus' wife Hera to guard a tree on which golden apples grew. Among the labors of Hercules, one of the tasks set to the hero was to slay the dragon and steal the apples.

It is appropriate, then, that Draco is placed alongside Hercules in the sky, and is usually depicted with the demigod standing with one foot on the beast's head.

Despite its size – it is the sixth-largest constellation – Draco contains few objects of interest. It lies well away from the plane of the Milky Way, and so has few bright deep sky objects. One exception is the planetary nebula NGC 6543, also designated as C 6 in the Caldwell catalogue.

Date First Appeared
Ancient
Sky Area
2.6% of the sky
1083.0 square degrees
Messier Objects
Draco contains the following Messier object: M102.
Caldwell Objects
Draco contains the following Caldwell objects: C3, C6.
Neighbors
The following constellations neighbor Draco: Bootes, Camelopardalis, Cepheus, Cygnus, Hercules, Lyra, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor.
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Brightest Objects in Draco

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Eltanin (mag 2.2) IC 4762 (mag 0.0) NGC 2963 (mag 0.0)
η-Dra (mag 2.7) NGC 3197 (mag 0.0)
Rastaban (mag 2.8) NGC 3465 (mag 0.0)
Altais (mag 3.1) NGC 3890 (mag 0.0)
ζ-Dra (mag 3.2) NGC 4133 (mag 0.0)
Edasich (mag 3.3) NGC 4256 (mag 0.0)
χ-Dra (mag 3.6) NGC 4441 (mag 0.0)
Thuban (mag 3.6) NGC 4589 (mag 0.0)
Grumium (mag 3.7) NGC 5413 (mag 0.0)
λ-Dra (mag 3.8) NGC 5870 (mag 0.0)
κ-Dra (mag 3.9) NGC 5987 (mag 0.0)
HD (mag 3.9) NGC 6123 (mag 0.0)
θ-Dra (mag 4.0) NGC 6176 (mag 0.0)
φ-Dra (mag 4.2) NGC 6213 (mag 0.0)
HD 81817 (mag 4.3) NGC 6244 (mag 0.0)
τ-Dra (mag 4.5) NGC 6285 (mag 0.0)
ρ-Dra (mag 4.5) NGC 6297 (mag 0.0)
ψ-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6373 (mag 0.0)
π-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6390 (mag 0.0)
CU Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6434 (mag 0.0)
O-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6461 (mag 0.0)
σ-Dra (mag 4.7) NGC 6473 (mag 0.0)
d-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6497 (mag 0.0)
ω-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6532 (mag 0.0)
υ-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6592 (mag 0.0)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme