Canis Major (The Great Dog) is a southern constellation viewable from throughout the southern hemisphere and as far north as Newfoundland in Canada. This is a midsized constellation most remarkable for containing the brightest star in the sky “Sirius”, also called the “Dog Star”.
The Canis Major constellation shares a border with Columba, Lepus, Monoceros, and Puppis.
If you want to find this constellation, search for Sirius. Once you find Orion’s belt, find the left edge of constellation a look for a few degrees’ south-west. You can’t miss the glory of the star Sirius. Canis Major belongs to the Orion family of constellations, along with Canis Minor, Lepus, Monoceros, and Orion.
Right Ascension: 06:48
Diameter (°): 10
Area (square °): 380
Opposition: Jan 01
Size Rank: 43rd
Brightness Rank: 1st
Genitive: Canis Majoris
Major stars in Canis Major
Sirius – α Canis Majoris (Alpha Canis Majoris)
Adhara – ε Canis Majoris (Epsilon Canis Majoris)
Wezen – δ Canis Majoris (Delta Canis Majoris)
Mirzam – β Canis Majoris (Beta Canis Majoris)
Aludra – η Canis Majoris (Eta Canis Majoris)
τ Canis Majoris (Tau Canis Majoris)
Phurud – ζ Canis Majoris (Zeta Canis Majoris)
Muliphein – γ Canis Majoris (Gamma Canis Majoris)
Deep sky objects in Canis Major
Messier 41 (M41, NGC 2287)
Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy
NGC 2359 – Thor’s Helmet
NGC 2207 and IC 2163 Colliding Spiral Galaxies
Mythology of the Constellation Canis Major
Represented by a dog at the feet of the twins, Canis Major is located southeast of Orion's, the celebrated huntsman.
According to some mythologists, this constellation marks one of Orion’s hounds, placed alongside him to keep him company. Orion has been described in various mythologies as either a hunter or as a shepherd.
Others say it honors the dog, Lelaps, given to Caphalus by Aurora, which was the fastest of all dogs. To prove his dog’s superior speed, Cephalus pitted him against a fox, which, until then, had the reputation Caphalus was now claiming belonged to Lelaps. After the two animals had run neck and neck for a long time, Jupiter was so delighted at the speed of the dog that he immortalized him in the heavens.
The name and form of this constellation no doubt was derived from the Egyptians. They carefully watched it rise and judged the swelling of the Nile (which they called Sirius) by it. Hieroglyphically, it was depicted as a dog since it was viewed as a sentinel and the clock of the year.
Clever folks that they were; the Egyptians had noticed that when Sirius became visible in the east just before dawn, the Nile immediately overflowed. Sirius thus effectively warned them like a faithful dog that they must get out of the path of inundation each time the Nile banks overflowed.
Sirius is the brightest star in the sky and the closest star to our sun. It is easily located projecting southward through the three stars in the belt of Orion to the brightest star.