Heavenly Waters Constellation Family: Equuleus, Carina & Piscis Australis

The constellations discussed in this exploration of star groups associated with the Heavenly Waters family, you will encounter the myth behind Equuleus (‘little horse’), Carina (‘keel’), and Piscis Australis, which stands for ‘southern fish.’


The second smallest of the 88 modern constellations is called Equuleus (which stands for ‘little horse’ or ‘foal’ in Latin). Although the constellation was small and lacked bright stars, it also found a place in the list of 48 constellations of Ptolemy. None of the stars shine brighter than fourth magnitude. The constellation is associated with the foal called Celeris (which means “swiftness” or “speed”), who was also the offspring (or brother) of the winged horse named Pegasus. In mythological history, Mercury gave Celeris to Castor.

Some myths state that Equuleus is the horse that Neptune struck with his trident during a contest that was held between Athena and himself. This was a challenge to see who was more superior. Since this group of stars rises before Pegasus, they are often referred to as Equus Primus (also known as The First Horse). There is also a story that includes Equuleus , the tale of Philyra (a nymph in Greek mythology) and Saturn.


In Latin, Carina means, “keel” , a constellation placed into the southern part of the sky, which forms a section of the oldest constellation in the sky , Argo Navis. Within this star system, Canopus is found, which is the second brightest star within the night sky. It is also known for housing the super-massive star called η Carinae, which is embedded in the rather large Eta Carinae Nebula (also known as NGC 3372).

The Milky Way runs through Carina, where a large amount of open clusters are found within the constellation. These include NGC 2516 and IC 2602 (also referred to as “Southern Pleiades”). In regards to Carina, the most notable object to pay attention to is called NGC 3372 , the Eta Carinae Nebula , a planetary nebula that is the most visible to the naked eye. There are close to 150 stars associated with NGC 3532, a large binocular cluster.

Piscis Australis

In Latin, this constellation means “southern fish,” and is noted as one of the 48 constellations that Ptolemy originally listed and one of the 88 modern constellations as well. When it comes to its brightest star, there is only one , Fomalhaut. Before the 20th century, the constellation also gained the name of Piscis Notius, a reference that was used to separate it from Pisces. Later, Piscis Volans was introduces, which meant the “flying fish.” In the beginning, it was Piscis Austrinus that astronomers thought was the only constellation that represented a fish , but the emergence of Pisces would shatter this honor.