Heavenly Waters Constellation Family: Puppis & Vela

When it comes to the constellations within the Heavenly Waters family, you will find Columba, Carina, Puppis, Vela, Piscis Austrinus, Eridanus, Equuleus, Delphinus, and Pyxis. In this article, you will learn a little bit about a couple of these star patterns and their history.


This southern constellation is known as the largest of the four parts in which Argo Navis was split into. The Milky Way runs through this star group, where a large number of open clusters are found within the same constellation. Two open clusters situated within the same binocular field are called Messier 46 (M46) and Messier 47 (47), which can be seen with the naked eye with the skies have become dark. Its brightest stars are also regarded for their 6th magnitude brightness. Messier 93 (M93) are another open cluster that is found somewhat to the south. The rather bright open cluster that contains the star called c Puppis is called NGC 2451.

When taking a look about Puppis, many different stars have been located about the region, including a handful of extrasolar planets. In 2003, a planet was actually found orbited the star HD 70642. This system has been compared to Jupiter, as it possesses a wide, circular orbit with a long period. In 2006, the nearest star of this constellation was dubbed HD 69830. It was discovered to have three planets with a mass close to Neptune. This marked the first multiple planetary system that didn’t showcase planets with Jupiter-like or Saturn-like characteristics. The star also plays host to an asteroid belt at the region located between the middle planet and the outer planet. In 2007, the first extrasolar planet was discovered in the open cluster NGC 2423, as it was found about the red giant star named HGC 2423-3. This planet has a mass that is nearly 11 times greater than that of Jupiter.


In the south, you will find this constellation that means ‘sails’ in Latin. When Argo Navis (the ship of the Argonauts) split, it was this constellation that became one of the four parts (joining Carina, Puppis, and Pyxis. When looking for the brightest star within the constellation of Vela, you will find that it is γ Velorum, which is considered a bright supergiant star. The name for this kind of formation is called a quintuple, which consists of five stars. It has gained recognition over the years for its brightest member called Wolf-Rayet star.

Some of the more notable deep sky objects of this group of stars include the planetary nebula known as NGC 3132 (which has earned the nickname of ‘Eight-burst nebula.’ The Vela Supernova Remnant is also a constellation of interest, which has been connected to the supernova explosion that is thought to have become visible from the Earth , taking place about 10,000 years ago. This remnant additionally contains a pulsar, which holds the distinction of becoming the first of its kind to gain optical acceptance.