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 NGC 4236 (mag 9.7)
η-Dra (mag 2.7) NGC 4125 (mag 9.8)
Rastaban (mag 2.8) NGC 5866 (mag 10.0)
Altais (mag 3.1) Messier 102 (mag 10.0)
ζ-Dra (mag 3.2) NGC 6503 (mag 10.2)
Edasich (mag 3.3) NGC 5907 (mag 10.4)
χ-Dra (mag 3.6) NGC 3147 (mag 10.7)
Thuban (mag 3.6) NGC 6340 (mag 11.0)
Grumium (mag 3.7) NGC 5985 (mag 11.0)
λ-Dra (mag 3.8) NGC 6643 (mag 11.1)
κ-Dra (mag 3.9) NGC 5982 (mag 11.1)
HD 181577 (mag 3.9) NGC 6015 (mag 11.2)
θ-Dra (mag 4.0) NGC 5879 (mag 11.5)
φ-Dra (mag 4.2) NGC 6654 (mag 11.6)
HD 81817 (mag 4.3) NGC 6412 (mag 11.8)
τ-Dra (mag 4.5) NGC 5908 (mag 11.9)
ρ-Dra (mag 4.5) NGC 4291 (mag 12.0)
ψ-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 3735 (mag 12.0)
π-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 6236 (mag 12.0)
CU Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 4589 (mag 12.0)
O-Dra (mag 4.6) NGC 4319 (mag 12.0)
σ-Dra (mag 4.7) NGC 5963 (mag 12.0)
d-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 4750 (mag 12.0)
ω-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 5678 (mag 12.0)
υ-Dra (mag 4.8) NGC 6140 (mag 12.0)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EDT

Color scheme