Constellation Capricornus (Sea Goat)

Capricornus: IAU Constellation Map [150]


Capricornus is a less conspicuous constellation consisting mainly of stars of 4th and 5th magnitude. But it has the very distinctive shape of an arrow head pointing south. Capricornus is southeast of Aquila and east of Sagittarius. The area is 414 square degrees and the center of the constellation culminates around midnight on August 5th. [9, 15]

Stars with Proper Names [154]
α1 Cap Prima Giedi, Algiedi Prima, Algedi
α2 Cap Secunda Giedi, Algiedi Secunda, Gredi, Algedi
β Cap Dabih
γ Cap Nashira
δ Cap Deneb Algedi, Deneb Algiedi, Scheddi, Sheddi
ν Cap Alshat
Data for constellation Capricornus [150]
IAU NameCapricornus
IAU GenitiveCapricorni
IAU Abbr.Cap
English NameSea Goat
Opposition4 August
Season (47° N)July … October
Right Ascension20h 06m 46s … 21h 59m 05s
Declination-27° 38' 31" … -08° 24' 16"
Area414 deg2
Neighbours (N↻)Aql, Sgr, Mic, PsA, Aqr

Deep-Sky Object Descriptions


Mythology and History

Capricornus is often seen depicted with the head and torso of a goat and the tail of a fish. This unusual creature has been known for a long time and appears in numerous cultures. His image was found on stones from ancient Mesopotamia, today's Iraq. The Sumerian name for this constellation means goat fish.

Constellation Capricornus
Constellation Capricornus: Illustration from «Uranometria» by Johann Bayer, copper engraving by Alexander Mair, 1603 [28]

In Greek mythology, Capricornus was associated with Pan, the boy of the gods. One day Pan met a group of pretty nymphs and goddesses who were laughing and playing in a field. To impress them, he turned into a goat and dived with one mighty leap into a nearby stream. The lower part of his body then turned into a fish tail. The king of the gods, Zeus - not averse to playing antics himself - was so amused by this caper that he took the goat fish to the starry sky. [81]

According to another legend, Pan is said to have turned into an ibex to hide from the giant Typhon. [10]

The Latin name Capricornus, which literally means goat's horn, is reminiscent of the story we find in the carter and which is about Amaltheia. It is not known exactly whether Amaltheia was the nymph herself or Amaltheia the goat belonging to the nymph. In any case, Zeus was suckled by this goat as a child before the time, and nectar and ambrosia flowed from the goat's horns. Ovid relates that one of these horns broke off and the nymphs filled it with fruit for Zeus. So it became a cornu copiae, a cornucopia, a symbol of abundance. Zeus later moved the goat to heaven out of gratitude. The goat star Capella reminds of this, but so does the goat horn Capricornus. [20]


  • [9] «Drehbare Sternkarte SIRIUS» von H. Suter-Haug; Hallwag-Verlag, Bern
  • [10] «dtv-Atlas zur Astronomie» von Joachim Herrmann; Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag; ISBN 3-423-03006-2
  • [15] «Hartung's Astronomical Objects for Southern Telescopes» by David Malin and David J. Frew; Melbourne University Press 1995; ISBN 0-522-84553-3
  • [20] «Sternbilder und ihre Mythen» von Gerhard Fasching; Zweite, verbesserte Auflage; Springer Verlag Wien, New York; ISBN 3-211-82552-5 (Wien); ISBN 0-387-82552-5 (New York)
  • [28] «Uranometria omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata aereis laminis expressa» Johann Bayer, Augsburg, 1603; DOI:10.3931/e-rara-309
  • [81] The Starry Sky: Capricornus by Deborah Byrd; Astronomy 8/95, p.58
  • [150] IAU: The Constellations, 11. Oktober 2020;
  • [154] Yale Bright Star Catalog, 15. Oktober 2020;