Capricornus – Constellation Facts

Capricornus Stars

Capricornus means “the goat” in Latin. It can be found in the fourth quadrant of the Southern hemisphere and is located specifically between latitudes of +60° and -90°. Like all the Zodiac signs, Capricorn was first catalogued in the 2nd century by Ptolemy, who was a Greek astronomer.

Constellation Characteristics

Capricornus is somewhat triangular in shape and is the 40th largest constellation in the night sky, occupying 414 square degrees. Capricornus is also neighbors with Aquarius, Aquila, Microscopium, Piscis Austrinus and Sagittarius. In addition, this constellation has eight main stars, one Messier and five meteor showers associated with it; the Alpha Capricornids, the Chi Capricornids, the Sigma Capricornids, the Tau Capricornids, and the Capricorniden-Sagittarids.

Capricornus Constellation

IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Planetary Systems

Capricornus only has one deep sky object, which is a Messier. Read on to discover some fascinating facts about this celestial wonder.

  • Messier 30 (NGC 7099): this Messier was one of the first to be discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier. It is 28,000 light-years away and is considered a globular cluster. M30 is a dense cluster with several bright magnitude 12 red giants.

Main Stars

The constellation Capricornus contains eight main stars that makes up its shape. Let’s explore them further.

  • Deneb Algedi (Delta Capricorni) shines the brightest in the Capricornus constellation (which will be discussed later in detail).
  • Dabih (Beta Capricorni) is the second brightest star in Capricornus; however, it is classified as a star system – Dabih Major (Beta-1 Capricorni) and Dabih Minor (Beta-2 Capricorni) – both of these are made up of multi-stars.
  • Algiedi (Alpha Capricorni) gets its name from Arabic, al-jady, meaning “billy goat.” This optical binary star consists of a two star systems; Prima Giedi (Alpha-2 Capricorni) and Secunda Giedi (Alpha-2 Capricorni).
  • Nashira (Gamma Capricorni) lies 139 light-years away and is considered a blue-white A-type giant. Its name is from Arabic meaning “bearer of good news.”
  • Yen (Zeta Capricorni) is a double star with one component being a bright Barium star and the other is a yellow G-type supergiant and a white dwarf.
  • Dorsum (Theta Capricorni) is derived from the Latin word for “the back (of the goat). It is also a white A-type main sequence dwarf, located 158 light-years away.
  • Baten Algiedi (Omega Capricorni) means “the belly of the goat” and is catalogued as a M-type red giant star. It is located 630 light-years away.
  • Psi Capricorni is a yellow-white giant situated 47.9 light-years from Earth.

Capricornus as shown on Plate XVI of the Uranographia of Johann Bode (1801)

Capricornus as shown on Plate XVI of the Uranographia of Johann Bode (1801)

Most Shining Star

Out of all the stars that make up the Capricornus constellation, none shine brighter than Deneb Algedi. Its name is derived from the Arabic (oanab al-jady) meaning, “the tail of the goat.” This four-star system has a white giant, a star that varies in luminosity and two others believed to be orbiting its system. In addition, it is also 39 light-years away.

Mythology & History

This constellation is the second faintest in the sky and can trace its roots as far back as the Babylonians and Sumerians. In 1000 BC, the Babylonians referred to this system as, Mul-Surah-Mas (“goat fish”). In Sumerian history, Capricornus was called, Suhur-Mash-Ha which also means, goat-fish. In addition, this constellation marked the winter solstice and still represents the first day of ruling of the zodiac, Capricorn.


Capricorn is the tenth sign of the zodiac. People born between December 23rd and January 20th are in the sign of the goat. Some characteristics of people born under this sign are;

  • Loyal
  • Patient
  • Ambitious
  • Responsive
  • Resourceful

Capricorns do tend to be a bit conceited, distrusting and unimaginative. They are very independant and trust only themselves to get the job done right. This sign is best suited to leadership roles and are always looking to climb the ladder in their chosen career. To an outsider, the Capricorn may look boring, stern or even melancholy, but this is because the Capricorn weighs the pros and cons of every decision, making sure it is the proper way to go. However, this is an advantage as Capricorns are usually structured and organized in their lives.

Capricornus is a fascinating constellation, so the next time you are gazing into the night sky, be sure to search out this intriguing figuration of stars.