Microscopium with its borders, asterism and depicted art (Source: IAU.org, Stellarium, ret. 2012)
Microscopium (Lacaille Family) is a small and faint constellation in the Southern Hemisphere bordered by Capricornus at its north, Indus at its south, Saggitarius at its west, and Piscis Austrinus and Grus at its east. It covers approximately 210 degrees of sky. Aside from 5 faint stars in its asterism, it also had 13 Bayer/Flamsteed designated stars within its borders.
This constellation was named after the microscope, as the name suggests, by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. Since Lacaille was a man of science, he used scientific instruments in naming his newly created constellations and added them in his southern star catalog, the Coelum Australe Stelliferum. No mythological stories are related to this constellation since it is considered “new” and did not even exist during the Greek period.
Gamma Microscopii (γ Mic) – It is the brightest star in the constellation with an apparent visual magnitude of 4.677. It is a G-type giant 220-light years away from the sun. It is believed that about 3.8 million years ago, gamma Microscopii was only six light-years distant from the Sun. This would have made it brighter than Sirius, alpha Canis Majoris, currently the brightest star in the sky.
Theta 1 Microscopii and Theta 2 Microscopii (θ1 Mic and θ2 Mic) – theta 1 Mic is a variable star and together with theta 2 Mic forms a binary star system.
WASP-7 (HD 197286) – It is known to have an exoplanet revolving around it named HD 197286b
Other Notable Celestial Object/s:
HD 197286 b – It is an extrasolar revolving around WASP-7 discovered in 2008. It completes its orbit around its star for 4.95 Earth years and has a Jovian mass scale of 1.28.
NGC 6925 – This faint inclined spiral galaxy is known to contain a megamaser.
1.) Although ancient Greek ignored this constellation due to its faintness, it is believed that Chinese had imagined one Constellation on this area. They called it Jiukan, meaning nine water wells or canals. Water from Jiukan would no doubt have been used to irrigate Tiantian, the Emperor’s farmland in Capricornus to the north.
2.) It was on the 2nd edition of Lacaille’s chart that the name of the constellation was Latinized into Microscopium. Lacaille first called it le Microscope.
|Lacaille’s original depiction of Microscopium (Source: http://www.ianridpath.com/startales/microlacaille.htm, ret. 2012)|
Prepared by Marc Mapalo
Constellations: Microscopium 'the Microscope'. (n.d.). Retrieved from h2g2: http://h2g2.com/dna/h2g2/alabaster/A43082138
Microscopium Constellation. (n.d.). Retrieved from TopAstronomer.com: http://www.topastronomer.com/StarCharts/Constellations/Microscopium.php
Plotner, T. (2008, December 3). Microscopium. Retrieved from Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/21809/microscopium/
Ridpath, I. (n.d.). Microscopium. Retrieved from Ian Ridpath: Star Tales: http://www.ianridpath.com/startales/microscopium.htm
Ridpath, I. (n.d.). Lacaille's Microscopium. Retrieved from Ian Ridpath: Star Tales: http://www.ianridpath.com/startales/microlacaille.htm