Constellation Vela (Sails)

Vela: IAU Constellation Map [150]


Vela, the sail of the great ship, lies in the ribbon of the Milky Way. The stars kappa and delta Velorum together with iota and epsilon Carinae form a large cross that is often confused with the southern cross further west by the ignorant and therefore False cross means. The area of the constellation is 500 square degrees and the center culminates around midnight on 11 February. [9, 15]

Stars with Proper Names [154]
γ2 Vel Suhail Al Muhlif, Al Suhail Al Muhlif, "Spectral Gem Of Southern Skies"
λ Vel Alsuhail, Al Suhail Al Wazn, Suhail
Data for constellation Vela [150]
IAU NameVela
IAU GenitiveVelorum
IAU Abbr.Vel
English NameSails
Season (47° N)Not visible
Right Ascension08h 03m 27s … 11h 05m 50s
Declination-57° 10' 28" … -37° 09' 36"
Area500 deg2
Neighbours (N↻)Ant, Pyx, Pup, Car, Cen


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

Mythology and History

The stars of the constellation Vela used to belong to the constellation Argo Navis and today they form part of what Lacaille has left from the original constellation. The other parts are Carina, Puppis and Pyxis. Argo Navis was the ship of the Thessalian hero Jason and his crew, the Argonauts from the Greek legend. It helped in the search for the golden fleece of the Aries and could speak and prophesy.

The brightest stars of the four sub-constellations of Argo Navis still have a continuous designation with Greek letters, as Johann Bayer had included the constellation in his «Uranometria» before Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. [7, 10]


  • [7] «Der grosse Kosmos-Himmelsführer» von Ian Ridpath und Wil Tirion; Kosmos Verlag; ISBN 3-440-05787-9
  • [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
  • [28] «Uranometria omnium asterismorum continens schemata, nova methodo delineata aereis laminis expressa» Johann Bayer, Augsburg, 1603; DOI:10.3931/e-rara-309
  • [150] IAU: The Constellations, 11. Oktober 2020;
  • [154] Yale Bright Star Catalog, 15. Oktober 2020;