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Canis Major - The Big Dog


Mythology - In Greek mythology this dog belonged to Orion and was placed in the sky to help him in his eternal chase. The Egyptians had a much more important role for this constellation. When the bright star Sirius (the embodiment of Isis) rose with the Sun it heralded the flooding of the Nile. Its rising marked the beginning of the Egyptian calendar year. The priests considered Sirius to be a watchdog who indicated the coming deluge. The constellation was the representation of Anubis, the dog-headed god.
Stars - Sirius (αlpha canis majorum) is a binary system, but the companion star was only discovered in 1862 by Bessel from the wobble in Sirius’ motion. In order to see this 8th magnitude white dwarf so close to the brightest star in the sky requires exceptional seeing conditions and clean optics.
Deepsky - M41 is in the position of the Dog's heart and is a fine open cluster visible in binoculars or small telescopes and contains some 100 stars.
Visibility - Canis Major is best seen in March.