Dorado is a newer constellation than those named by Ptolemy in the 2nd Century. It was first depicted on Plancius's maps of 1592 and 1594 as an elderly bearded man named Polophylax.
It was later depicted in Johann Bayer’s star atlas Uranometria in 1603. Bayer described it a goldfish in the southern figures. It was Bayer who named it Dorado. The word is from the Spanish and refers not to the little exotic fishes we associate with goldfish, but rather to the large Coryphrena fish of tropical waters.
Dorado is bordered by the constellations Caelum, Horologium, Hydrus, Mensa, Pictor, Reticulum and Volans.
Right Ascension: 05:07
Diameter (°): 14
Area (square °): 179
Opposition: Dec 10
Size Rank: 72nd
Brightness Rank: 62nd
Major or notable stars in Dorado
α Doradus (Alpha Doradus)
β Doradus (Beta Doradus)
γ Doradus (Gamma Doradus)
δ Doradus (Delta Doradus)
R Doradus (HD 29712)
ζ Doradus (Zeta Doradus)
Deep Sky Objects in Dorado
Large Magellanic Cloud
Tarantula Nebula – NGC 2070 (30 Doradus)
Ghost Head Nebula – NGC 2080
Mythology of the Constellation Dorado
Dorado is in the far southern sky and was not a regular feature to ancient Greek Navigators. As such, there are no stories associated with it in Greek Mythology.
In 66 A.D., Dorado may have been what Josephus was writing about when he described that “which for a year had hung over Jerusalem in the form of a sword.” That same year, Halley’s Comet appeared.
Although it is commonly translated to English as the “Goldfish”, Johannes Kepler referred to it as the “Swordfish” constellation, or Xipias.
At around the time the constellation was named, different Spanish travelers to South America began to write of the tale of “El Dorado”, the fabled city of gold. Although Europeans at the time sought out a city of gold, the origins were more ceremonial in nature.
The fable is said to originate with the Muisca peoples who have lived in Central Colombia for about 1600 years. Spaniard Juan Rodriguez Freyle’s 1636 book, The Conquest and Discovery of the New Kingdom of Granada, describes the succession of a new leader to the throne.
The new Leader was referred to as a “golden one” with a long ornate initiation. The new leader would be ordained in gold dust (made of silver and copper alloy) and festooned in feathers and jewels.