Corvus (constellation)
List of stars in Corvus
Abbreviation Crv
Genitive Corvi
Pronunciation /ˈkɔrvəs/, genitive /ˈkɔrvaɪ/
Symbolism the Crow/Raven
Right ascension 12 h
Declination −20°
Quadrant SQ3
Area 184 sq. deg. (70th)
Main stars 4
Stars with planets 1
Stars brighter than 3.00m 3
Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly) 1
Brightest star γ Crv (Gienah) (2.59m)
Nearest star Ross 695
(28.99 ly, 8.89 pc)
Messier objects 0
Meteor showers Corvids (June 26)
Visible at latitudes between +60° and −90°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of May.

Corvus is a small constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for raven or crow. It includes only 11 stars visible to the naked eye (brighter than magnitude 5.5). It was one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy, who only counted 7 stars,[1] and it remains one of the 88 modern constellations.


Notable features


Four principal stars, δ, γ, ε, and β Crv, form an asterism known as "the "Spica's Spanker"[2] or "the Sail".[3][4] γ and δ serve as pointers toward Spica.

31 Crateris (which was originally placed within in Crater) is a 5.2 magnitude star which was once mistaken for a moon of Mercury.

Notable deep sky objects

Corvus contains no Messier objects.

The Antennae peculiar galaxy consists of the colliding NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, and appears to have a heart shape as seen from Earth. The name originates from the huge tidal tails that come off the ends of the two galaxies.

The center of Corvus is home to a planetary nebula NGC 4361. The nebula itself resembles a small elliptical galaxy, but the magnitude 13 star at its centre gives away its true nature.

History and mythology

The Greek figure of Corvus is modeled on the Babylonian Raven (MUL.UGA.MUSHEN), which was similarly placed sitting on the tail of the Serpent (Greek Hydra). The Babylonian constellation was sacred to Adad, the god of rain and storm; in the second Millennium it would have risen just before the start of the autumnal rainy season.[5]

See the story at constellations Crater and Hydra.

Once the crow had beautiful silver or snowy white feathers and could speak to humans, but that all changed. As Apollo's sacred bird, the crow (or Raven) was told to watch over his pregnant love, Coronis. Coronis slowly lost interest in Apollo and was attracted to a mere mortal. The crow, who was secretly spying on her, reported her unfaithfulness to Apollo. In a rage of anger he unfairly turned the loyal raven's feathers black and took away its ability to speak. Coronis was killed by Apollo's twin sister Artemis. The child of Coronis and Apollo was rescued and raised. He then became known as Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing.

Another story is that when Apollo sent his raven to get some water in the god's cup (Crater), the raven waited for some figs to ripen and had a feast on them. He came back very late with a water snake (Hydra) and the water in the cup (Crater) he was sent for. The foolish raven blamed his tardiness on the water snake. Apollo was not tricked. He put the raven in the sky along with the water snake and the cup. Until this day, the snake keeps water from the eternally thirsty raven, yet the raven always sees the water, just out of reach.


In Chinese astronomy, the stars of Corvus are located within the Vermillion Bird of the South (南方朱雀, Nán Fāng Zhū Què).[6]

In Indian astronomy, the first five stars of Corvus correspond to the Hastā, the 11th nakshatra or lunar mansion.[7]

See also

Corvus (Chinese astronomy)


  1. ^  This article incorporates content from the 1728 Cyclopaedia, a publication in the public domain.
  2. ^ Nickel, J., (1999): Lift Up Your Eyes on High: Understanding the Stars, Christian Liberty Press, p. 53.
  3. ^ Bakich, M. E., (1995): The Cambridge Guide to the Constellations, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 21,22.
  4. ^ Mullaney, J., (2007): The Herschel objects and how to observe them <Astronomers' Observing Guides>, Springer, p. 39.
  5. ^ Babylonian Star-lore by Gavin White, Solaria Pubs, 2008, page 166ff
  6. ^ (Chinese) AEEA (Activities of Exhibition and Education in Astronomy) 天文教育資訊網 2006 年 7 月 22 日
  7. ^ Allen, R. H., (1963): Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning, New York, Dover Publications, p. 182.

External links

Coordinates: Sky map 12h 00m 00s, −20° 00′ 00″

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