Canis Major

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Canis Major is a constellation, included in the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy's 48 constellations, and still included among the 88 modern constellations. Its name is Latin for 'greater dog', and is commonly represented as one of the dogs following Orion the hunter (see also Canis Minor the 'lesser dog'). Canis Major contains Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, known as the 'dog star'; that star is part of the asterism known as the Winter Triangle in the Northern Hemisphere, or the Summer Triangle in the Southern. The star is also recognized as Canis Major's nose.

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Notable features

Stars

There are several other fairly bright stars (in order of brightness) in Canis Major, all with Arabic names:

Deep sky objects

There are not many bright deep sky objects in this region of sky. The only Messier object in Canis Major is Messier 41 (NGC 2287), an open cluster of visual magnitude 4.6. It is located about 4 degrees directly south of Sirius. Messier 41 is roughly 2350 light years away from Earth, contains about 8,000 stars, and is about 24 light years in diameter. It is also noted for containing a number of K-class stars.

The band of the Milky Way goes through Canis Major and therefore background galaxies are hidden behind interstellar dust clouds. However, in 2003, Canis Major Dwarf, the closest satellite galaxy to Earth, was found within the constellation.

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