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 3144 (mag 0.0)
η-Dra (mag 2.7) NGC 3252 (mag 0.0)
Rastaban (mag 2.8) NGC 3682 (mag 0.0)
Altais (mag 3.1) NGC 4120 (mag 0.0)
ζ-Dra (mag 3.2) NGC 4221 (mag 0.0)
Edasich (mag 3.3) NGC 4332 (mag 0.0)
χ-Dra (mag 3.6) NGC 4513 (mag 0.0)
Thuban (mag 3.6) NGC 4750 (mag 0.0)
Grumium (mag 3.7) NGC 5779 (mag 0.0)
λ-Dra (mag 3.8) NGC 5906 (mag 0.0)
κ-Dra (mag 3.9) NGC 6024 (mag 0.0)
HD (mag 3.9) NGC 6136 (mag 0.0)
θ-Dra (mag 4.0) NGC 6190 (mag 0.0)
φ-Dra (mag 4.2) NGC 6232 (mag 0.0)
HD 81817 (mag 4.3) NGC 6248 (mag 0.0)
τ-Dra (mag 4.5) NGC 6290 (mag 0.0)
ρ-Dra (mag 4.5) NGC 6310 (mag 0.0)
ψ-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6382 (mag 0.0)
π-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6395 (mag 0.0)
CU Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6420 (mag 0.0)
O-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6466 (mag 0.0)
σ-Dra (mag 4.7) NGC 6488 (mag 0.0)
d-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6512 (mag 0.0)
ω-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6542 (mag 0.0)
υ-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6601 (mag 0.0)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme