Columba, the Dove constellation, sits in the southern sky below Canis Major, the great dog, and Lepus, the hare. This is one of 12 southern constellations defined by Dutch Cartographer Petrus Plancius based on the star data from Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser (Chief pilot of the ship Hollandia) and Frederick de Houtman.
The faint Columba constellation occupies less than 2% of the southern sky. Columba contains one star brighter than magnitude 3 and it is called Alpha Columbae, or Phact. The Columba constellation also has one star with a transiting planet - designated WASP-63, (spectral class G8). Notable objects in it are also the runaway star Mu Columbae, the spiral galaxy NGC 1808 and the globular cluster NGC 1851.
The Dove can be seen throughout the Southern hemisphere and portions of it can be seen as far north as the Mason-Dixon line. Although there are no extra bright stars or meteor showers associated with this constellation, one star, NGTS-1 is home to the exoplanet NGTS-1 b.
Neighboring constellations include Caelum, Canis Major, Lepus, Pictor, and Puppis
Right Ascension: 05:51
Diameter (°): 9
Area (square °): 270
Opposition: Dec 19
Size Rank: 54th
Brightness Rank: 48th
Major stars in Columba
Phact – α Columbae (Alpha Columbae) “The Dove”
Wazn – β Columbae (Beta Columbae) “The Weight”
δ Columbae (Delta Columbae)
γ Columbae (Gamma Columbae)
μ Columbae (Mu Columbae)
ε Columbae – Epsilon Columbae
η Columbae – Eta Culumbae
Deep Sky Objects in Columba
NGC 1808 – contains supernova SN1993af which was discovered in 1993
History of the Constellation Columba
Columba, the dove, is one of numerous constellations named by Dutch Cartographer, Theologian, Astronomer and Clergyman Petrus Plancius (born Pieter Platevoet in 1882). Plancius was originally a minister in the Dutch Reformed Church who fled to Amsterdam during the Spanish Inquisition in 1585 and developed his passion for cartography and navigation there.
Probably to do homage to his religious roots, Columba is sometimes known as Columba Noae and as Noah’s Dove. The reader will remember that seven days after the rain stopped, Noah let loose a dove, but it came back. After being released a second time, it returned with an olive leaf so Noah knew that his wet days were almost over.
Columba, the dove is a derivative of the Latin Columbidae, the bird family that includes doves and pigeons. Some also say it refers to the story that Columbus also finally found a bird near the end of his first voyage, indicating to him that land was near. In any case, the name of Noah’s bird is not mentioned in the Bible.
Other constellations named by Plancius include Apis (later changed to Musca), Apus, Chamaeleon, Dorado, Grus, Hydrus, Indus, Payo, Phoenix, Triangulum Australe, Tucana, and Volans. Later, Plancius is credited for naming Camelopardalis in the far northern sky and the equatorial constellation Monoceros.
In Chinese Astronomy Columba is not defined as a single constellation. It lies across the area symbolized by the Vermillion Bird of the South and the White Tiger of the West.