Eridanus - Fornax - Grus - Horologium - Hydrus - Indus - Lupus


A group which would be unremarkable were it not to contain most of the large Magellanic Cloud. Though the latin name of the constellation would seem to suggest a goldfish, Dorado actually represents a swordfish. Needless to say, it does not resemble one. The European observers who gave the Southern Constellations their modern names were obviously possessed of wild imaginations. Must be those sweltering southern climes!

Groups of stars

1. Sweep from ζ to κ , noting the fainter star between them, with a tiny triple nearby.

2. δ (4.5) lies in a fine field of bright stars.

Wide doubles

θ . Guide star to two wide doubles.

Close doubles

η2 . Difficult due to the faint comes. Mags 4.9 and 8.1, 272" apart.

P.148. 50 seconds separate these stars of 7.1 and 8.5m, which are so close to the previous object that effectively form a double-double.

Variable stars

R (4.8-6.6) A readily-observable star even with the smallest glasses, this is a semi-regular variable.

S (8.3-11) I have included this star for its interest value; it is an amazing eclipsing system with a period of 40 years, whose combined light-output is something like one million times that of the Sun! It is in the Magellanic cloud, in the cluster NGC 1910. Don't forget when you look at this star that it is in another Galaxy!

SN 1987. In February 1987, not far from the Tarantula Nebula, there appeared, in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the brightest Supernova seen since Kepler's Star in 1604. SN 1987, as it was called, turned out to be a most peculiar object. The obscure progenitor star which gloried in the designation Sk-69202 was not an old red star (the usual precursor of a Supernova) but instead a blue object. Some idea of the power of a Supernova may be gained by considering that an explosion 15,000 light-years away (that is, far more distant than any star we can see with the naked eye) would produce a star with a visual magnitude ten times brighter than Sirius! Since its explosion, the Supernova has thrown off a ring of gas (caused by its rapid rotation) and has faded back into visual obscurity.

NGC 2070. This is the great "Tarantula Nebula" close to the Supernova site. Seeing this object in binoculars, it is incredible to think that it lies in another galaxy, 200,000 light-years away. What it must look like at close quarters is a true inspiration for the astronomical artist!


This continues the section described under the Northern groups; the far South of this constellation is best seen from the Antipodes.

Groups of stars

1. e(4.3). Fine sweeping to the North-East. Note a large bright triangle with a much smaller group close by.

2.The area the fourth-magnitude stars g, f and h is worth scrutiny.

3. 02h 02m, -55. Pretty angular line of 5 seventh-mag stars.

Wide doubles

θ and e. Forming a large right-angle with these, and to the Northwest of theta, there is a small triangle of 6th- and 7th-magnitude stars, closely followed by a wide triple.

χ . A star with a sixth-mag distant companion.

Close doubles

P.5. A pleasant pair of 7.2 and 7.6, 179" apart.

P.149. Another attractive little double of 7.0 and 8.1 close to P.5. Separation 52".

P.150. Wider but more difficult because of the 9m companion. 102" apart.

P.151. About a degree and a half S. of the 4th-magnitude star s Eri, this is a good object of 7.4 and 8.0, with a separation of 92".


A fine group for sweeping, visible in its entirety from the US of A, though needing a high altitude to show its rather faint stars. Several good doubles and many faint galaxies, those these latter are generally beyond the range of binoculars.

Groups of Stars

1. 01h 50m, -39. Pretty group of assorted brightnesses.

2. η (4.7). Guide to rich area, notably to the N.

3. ι1(5.8) is another star in an interesting region.

4. α (3.9). Note the fine group of brightish stars which stretches from here through ε to β (4.5).

5. χ1(6.3) lies in a pretty X-shaped group.

6. σ . A fine area of many bright stars.

Wide doubles

η 2,3. Rather too wide for most binoculars.

Close doubles

χ1. An easy double of 6.2 and 7.2, 140" apart.

P.179. An equal 8m pair separated by 185".

P.180. Very similar to the preceding object, this makes a neat little triangle with nu and pi.

P.181. Quite near to P.180, this is a yellow pair of 7.3 and 7.7, 289" apart.

P.182. Two 8m stars separated by 130 seconds of arc.

P.184. Another 8th-magnitude couple, but this time only 64" apart. Lies 1S. of β.

Variable stars

X (8.0-9.2) Lying halfway between ω and γ1, this can be identified from the rather singular line running from W. to E. Closely North of X is a little triangle of 8.6, 8.9 and 9.1. A red variable.


A fine, conspicuous group with some good sweeping, and prominent wide double stars. The crane it represents is the avian, not mechanical, variety!

Groups of stars

1. γ (3.2) is one of a bright Y, with a wide pair at its branch.

2. φ (5.5) also lies in a bright, attractive field.

Wide doubles

μ 1,2. A 5th-magnitude pair with a further star making a wide triple.

δ 1,2. A brilliant wide double of the fourth magnitude.

σ1,2. A similar, but rather closer object with both components of magnitude 6.

ν . Not far away, this has a 7m attendant to the North.

Close doubles

Δ249. A close, difficult object of 6.5 and 7.4. Distance just 27".

P.139. A fine seventh magnitude pair 167" apart. Both orange.

Variable stars

π1 (5.4-6.7) The slightest optical aid will show this star of the rare spectral type S, which indicates a high proportion of the element Zirconium in the star's atmosphere. The variable makes a large triangle with the bright star Alnair (alpha Gruis) and a 6.2m star, and it has a companion in π2 (5.8) just to the East.


Often thought of as a poor group, this actually contains several interesting objects; unfortunately, the lack of bright stars here makes it a bit difficult to find some of them.

Groups of stars

1. η , ζ and ι are members of a large diamond-shaped group. The region around the first of these stars is especially fine.

2. 04h 03m, -45. Large collection of faint stars, best seen with powerful binoculars.

3. ν (5.4). Sweep from here Southwards to the neighbouring group, Hydrus.

Close doubles

P.6. Difficult because of the faintish companion; mags 5 and 8, 71" apart.

P.17. A fine triple star of mags. 6.1, 7.5 and 8.0. The separations are 83 and 93 arc-seconds.

P.18. Wider but more difficult. The faint comes is 143" away, and of 8.7m.

Variable stars

R (4-14) This star has one of the largest ranges of any variable, though a normal maximum is magnitude 6. It forms a long triangle with a 6.1m star 1 to the South, and a 7.1m object to the W., much closer. Additionally, the stars of group (1), all of 5.3m, can be used. Approximate dates of maxima are given in the appendices.

V (7.3-8.4) A deep red variable for which a chart is supplied.


A polar group with some fine fields and wide pairs, but not much else.

Groups of stars

1. Long, and appropriately sinuous line extending from the wide double β in a southerly direction.

2. 01h 50m, -77. Large group of about 10 seventh-magnitude stars.

3. 03h 23m, -77. A smaller but similar concentration.

4. 03h 20m, -70. Large, regular hexagon.

Wide doubles

π1,2. Equal wide double. There are several other fainter wide pairs in Hydrus, notably in the areas around epsilon and zeta.


A dull group to the eye, but revealing many interesting objects when examined with binoculars, fitting for its purpose of honouring the original inhabitants of the Southern hemisphere.

Groups of stars

1. 21h 05m, -46. Splendid large group of twelve stars of magnitude 8 and brighter, plus many fainter ones.

2. 21h 17m, -50. Several groups arranged in lines. Note a beautiful little group of six bright stars to the South.

3. ε (4.7) is situated in a beautiful coarse field.

4. ι(5.2). This is the chief star of a large Y, from which a long, faint trail extends to just North of μ (5.2).

5. o(5.5). One of a neat little triangle.

Close doubles

P.32. An easily-found attractively equal pair 138" apart.

P.33. A fine triple star with the two fainter members of 7.0 and 7.9 being 153 and 191 seconds from the 6.8m primary.

P.39. This is one of the members of group (5), and is a good object for medium-sized bins. Magnitudes 7.3 and 7.5 and distance 181".

P.137. Though nearly equal in brightness, both these stars are quite faint at magnitudes 8.2 and 8.4. Distance here is an easy 238" of arc.

Variable stars

T (5.7-7.4) An excellent star for the beginner. I have provided a chart.


A fine milky way constellation which, though wholly visible from parts of the USA, has been included among the Southern groups. Excellent low-power fields.

Groups of stars

1. ι (4.1) lies in a brilliant field of stars.

2. Large bright arc extending from δ (3.4) to φ1(3.6).

3. Bright Y that includes θ , a fine wide triple star.

4. π , λ , ε , μ and κ . Together with e, these form a brilliant wide group.

Wide doubles

τ 1,2. A beautiful 4th-magnitude double in a rich field for small binoculars. One degree South is a fainter and slightly fainter pair.

β . A bright star with a sixth-magnitude companion.

δ . This is another bright star with a 6m attendant.

ν1. Similar in appearance to the two previous stars, but fainter. Beautiful field with small glasses.

g. This has three eighth-mag companions. One of a bright triangle.

Close doubles

κ . Only suitable for large glasses, this is made up of 4.1 and 6.4m stars a mere 27" apart.

μ . Even more difficult at 24" and mags of 4.4 and 7.2, though a wider pair lies closely South.

ι . Much easier at 4.1 and 7.6. Separation 166 seconds of arc.

ζ . Another hard pair to split because of the magnitude difference. The stars of 3rd and 7th mags. are 72" apart.

Δ192. A beautiful equal pair separated by 35".

Δ178. The distance here is the same, but the stars are not quite as similar in brightness (6.4 and 7.1m).

P.58. An attractive equal pair of magnitude 7 separated by 319".

P.62. Rather more testing. Magnitudes 7.2 and 8.4, 151" apart.

Variable stars

FQ (8.0-9.0) This red variable in conveniently found between two stars of 8.3 and 8.9 which all lie in a straight line near the 5th-mag star h Lupi.

Clusters and Nebulae

NGC 5822. A cluster visible in small glasses as a large gleam of light.