The constellation Crater is found in the southern sky. Due to its shape, it is given the latin name for “Cup”.
The cup is formed above Hydra’s back just westward of Corvus and 30° south of Denebola. For that reason, it often was considered part of a constellation called Hydra et Corvus et Crater. Today they are catalogued separately.
Crater is also known as the “Cup of Apollo” and is depicted in the 1620-star atlas by Johannes Hevelius as a chalice with two handles carried on the back of Hydra.
The Constellations nearby are Corvus, Hydra, Leo, Sextans, and Virgo.
Right Ascension: 11:20
Diameter (°): 9
Area (square °): 282
Opposition: Mar 10
Size Rank: 53rd
Brightness Rank: 71st
Major or notable stars in Crater
Labrum – δ Crateris (Delta Crateris)
Alkes – α Crateris (Alpha Crateris)
Al Sharasif – β Crateris (Beta Crateris)
γ Crateris (Gamma Crateris)
Deep Sky Objects in Crater
Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039, Caldwell 60/61)
Mythology of the Constellation Crater
According to legend, Apollo sent his crow, Corvus, to fetch him some water for a sacrifice, but the lazy crow became distracted and spent his day in a fig tree.
Remembering his errand, the crow quickly returned with both the cup of water and the creature Hydra as an excuse for his tardiness. This trickery made Apollo even angrier. He threw the crow, the cup, and Hydra up into the stars. To this day, the white feathers of the crow are now scorched black, and it is cursed with perpetual thirst.
Other cultures have referred to Crater as the “Holy Grail”, “Cup of Joseph”, and in England two or three centuries ago the constellation was known as the “Two-handed-Pot”.
An ancient vase in the Warwick collection bears an inscription that translates to:
“Wise ancient knew when Crater rose to sight,
Nile’s fertile deluge had attained its height.”