Observing the Constellations
Short descriptions for finding the Constellations
from Southern Africa

A star watching service by ASSA Bloemfontein Centre, South Africa
Information customized for southern hemisphere, 29 degree latitude South

List of all 88 official constellations

The Constellation of


(the Octant) is the most southern constellation, as the south celestial pole is situated within its boundaries. It is a small constellation, with faint stars. Octans is difficult to see without some guidance from brighter stars nearby and is usually connected with only three stars forming a 90 degrees triangle. Its star closest to the south celestial pole, visible in binoculars, is called Sigma Octantis. An Octant was an astronomical / navigational instrument used to measure the altitude of celestial bodies.

Where is it?

Octans is a south circumpolar constellation, and can be found throughout the year in the far southern skies. It is surrounded by numerous other constellations, among which Pavo and Hydrus are the biggest.

Finding it:
There's no easy way to find Octans and should not be attempted by the beginner! It is suggested that you locate more prominent constellations such as Apus and Chameleon and jump to the stars of Octans from there. If you know Hyrdus well, you can jump from beta Hydri to Octans and complete the figure.

Descriptions are based on evening observations, for the southern hemisphere and more specifically for Southern Africa.

Summer = Dec, Jan, Feb
Autumn = Mar, Apr, May
Winter = Jun, Jul, Aug
Spring = Sep, Oct, Nov

Zenith = point directly above you in the sky

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Constellation English name Constellation English name
Andromeda The Princess Lacerta Lizard
Antlia Air Pump Leo Lion
Apus Bird of Paradise Leo Minor Smaller Lion
Aquarius Water Carrier Lepus Hare
Aquila Eagle Libra Balance / scale
Ara Altar Lupus Wolf
Aries Ram Lynx Lynx
Auriga Charioteer Lyra Lyre
Bootes Herdsman Mensa Table Mountain
Caelum Chisel Microscopium Microscope
Camelopardalis Giraffe Monoceros Unicorn
Cancer Crab Musca Fly
Canes Venatici Hunting Dogs Norma Square
Canis Major Big Dog Octans Octant
Canis Minor Little Dog Ophiucus Serpent Carrier
Capricornus Goat Orion Orion
Carina Keel of Argo Pavo Peacock
Cassiopeia The Queen Pegasus Winged Horse
Centaurus The Centaur Perseus Perseus
Cepheus King Cepheus Phoenix Phoenix
Cetus Whale Pictor Easel
Chamaeleon Chameleon Pisces Fishes
Circinus Compass (draw) Pisces Austrinus Southern Fish
Columba Dove Puppis Stern of Argo
Coma Berenices Berenice's Hair Pyxis Compass of Argo
Corona Australis Southern Crown Reticulum Reticle
Corona Borealis Northern Crown Sagitta Arrow
Corvus Crow Sagittarius Archer
Crater Cup Scorpius Scorpion
Crux Southern Cross Sculptor Sculptor
Cygnus Swan Scutum Shield
Delphinus Dolphin Serpens Serpent
Dorado Swordfish Sextans Sextant
Draco Dragon Taurus Bull
Equuleus Little Horse Telescopium Telescope
Eridanus River Triangulum Triangle
Fornax Furnace Triangulum Australe Triangle (South)
Gemini Twins Tucana Toucan
Grus Crane Ursa Major Great Bear
Hercules Hercules Ursa Minor Little Bear
Horologium Clock / watch Vela Sails of Argo
Hydra Hydra (Sea Serpent) Virgo Virgin
Hydrus Water Serpent Volans Flying Fish
Indus Indian Vulpecula Fox

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