Positioned between Pisces to the west and Taurus to the east, you will find the constellation of Aries , represented by the ram. This ancient constellation also represents the zodiac and is considered one of the smallest and hard to find of all the constellations associated with the zodiac. In this article, you are also introduced to constellations, Monoceros and Musca.
Aries , the ram
The tale behind Aries is that it represents the golden ram who owned the fleece that Jason and the Argonauts were so interested in getting their hands on. Only a handful of stars are responsible for producing this constellation , the brightest of the bunch is Hamal, which is rather easy to locate.
Monoceros , the unicorn
The mythological creature that is rather appealing to children all over the world is also a constellation found in the winter night sky. However, it is so faint that it is not easy to find when using only the naked eye because it consists of a handful of fourth magnitude stars. To locate its whereabouts , you will find Monoceros surrounded by the likes of Orion (to the west), Gemini (to the north), Canis Major (to the south), and Hydra (to the east). When looking for other constellations that border the unicorn, you will find Lepus, Puppis, and Canis Minor.
Some of the notable objects associated with Monoceros include a multitude of clusters and nebulae. The open cluster called M50; the Rosette Nebula , NGC 2237-9, 46 (known as a diffuse nebula); the Christmas Tree Cluster; and the associated Cone Nebula (NGC 2264).
Monoceros is a modern constellation and first appeared to scientists when a Dutch cartographer by the name of Petrus Plancius in 1612 (or 1613) made the discovery. Hoever, Jakob Bartsch dubbed the constellation as ‘Unicornus’ when creating his star chart in 1624.
Other space enthusiasts, such as Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers suggest that the constellation is much older and uses astrological work that dates back to 1564. During the 13th century, it is believed that the constellation was discussed , although it was referred to as a horse instead of a unicorn. Additionally, the position is a bit off from calculations that followed. While references made to the unicorn are traced back to ancient times, there are no specific tales that include this constellation.
Musca , the fly
As one of the minor southern constellations in the sky, Musca is also one of the twelve constellations created by Peiter Dirkszoon Keyser (Dutch navigator who mapped the southern sky) and Frederick de Hourman (Dutch explorer who sailed along the Western coast of Australia) between the years of 1595 and 1597.
The constellation first made an appearance in “Uranometria” , a publication headed by Johann Bayer in 1603. In the beginning, the constellation was dubbed ‘Apis , the bee’ by Bayer, but it was renamed Musca Australis (the southern fly) by Nicolas Louis de La Caille between the years of 1750-1754. This was an attempt to separate this group of stars from a southern ‘fly’ called ” Musca Borealis”. However, this constellation is no longer recognizer by the astronomical community.
The following years would see the name shortened to Musca. Today, you will find the constellation positioned immediately south of Cruz (the southern cross), meaning that people living in the United States are unable to catch sight of it.