The Constellation Auriga

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

Auriga is a prominent constellation, visible in the far northern sky in the months around February. Its brightest star, Capella, is the sixth brightest in the sky.

Lying close to the plane of the northern Milky Way, it is littered with open clusters, including M36, M37 and M38. These are groupings of young stars, recently formed in the Taurus–Auriga molecular cloud.

Auriga is identified in Greek mythology as a charioteer, usually depicted holding a goat and two kids. The star Capella forms the body of the goat, and its name translates as ‘she-goat’.

There are various conflicting accounts of Auriga's identity in Greek mythology. One popular story is that he is Erichthonius, son of Vulcan, who was the first person to attach four horses to a chariot. Greek mythology has no explanation for why Erichthonius should be depicted holding a goat, and so the goat was probably once a separate constellation which has been awkwardly merged into Auriga.

Date First Appeared
Ancient
Sky Area
1.6% of the sky
657.4 square degrees
Messier Objects
Auriga contains the following Messier objects: M36, M37, M38.
Caldwell Objects
Auriga contains the following Caldwell object: C31.
Neighbors
The following constellations neighbor Auriga: Camelopardalis, Gemini, Lynx, Perseus, Taurus.
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Brightest Objects in Auriga

Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Stars Open Clusters Globular Clusters Galaxies
Capella (mag 0.1) NGC 2281 (mag 5.4) NGC 2208 (mag 14.0)
Menkalinan (mag 1.9) Messier 37 (mag 5.6) NGC 2303 (mag 14.0)
θ-Aur (mag 2.6) Messier 36 (mag 6.0) NGC 2387 (mag 15.0)
ι-Aur (mag 2.7) Messier 38 (mag 6.4)
ε-Aur (mag 3.0) NGC 1857 (mag 7.0)
η-Aur (mag 3.2) NGC 1893 (mag 7.5)
δ-Aur (mag 3.7) NGC 1664 (mag 7.6)
ζ-Aur (mag 3.8) NGC 1778 (mag 7.7)
ν-Aur (mag 4.0) NGC 1907 (mag 8.2)
κ-Aur (mag 4.3) NGC 2126 (mag 10.0)
π-Aur (mag 4.3) NGC 1724 (mag 10.0)
τ-Aur (mag 4.5) NGC 2192 (mag 11.0)
16-Aur (mag 4.6) NGC 1931 (mag 11.3)
λ-Aur (mag 4.7) NGC 1883 (mag 12.0)
χ-Aur (mag 4.7) NGC 2240
υ-Aur (mag 4.7) IC 2168
2-Aur (mag 4.8) NGC 1798
ψ²-Aur (mag 4.8) IC 406
μ-Aur (mag 4.8)
63-Aur (mag 4.9)
ψ¹-Aur (mag 4.9)
ξ-Aur (mag 5.0)
ψ⁷-Aur (mag 5.0)
9-Aur (mag 5.0)
ω-Aur (mag 5.0)

Ashburn

Latitude:
Longitude:
Timezone:

39.04°N
77.49°W
EST

Color scheme