Constellations of Sculptor and Fornax
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Sculptor and Fornax
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Image and text ©2008 Akira Fujii/David Malin Images.

In the picture above north is at the top and the image covers 51.0 x 63.7 degrees.
Image centre is located at 00:23:18.6, -22:53:47. (H:M:S, D:M:S, J2000) Astrometric data from Astrometry.net.

Sculptor and Fornax
Best seen in the early evening in November-December

Sculptor was originally L'Atelier du Sculpteur, (the Sculptor's Studio) and was so named by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille during his sojourn at the Cape of Good Hope between 1751 and 1752. It was made from stars that were originally between Cetus and Phoenix. Lacaille later Latinised this name to Apparatus Sculptoris, since happily shortened.

Fornax was created out of several faint stars in the southern part of Eridanus, also by de Lacaille, who originally named this obscure grouping le Fourneau (the Furnace) in the 1750s. The name was later Latinised (by Bode) to Fornax Chimiae, the Chemical Furnace in honor of the famous French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, who was guillotined in 1794 during the French Revolution.

Neither Sculptor nor Fornax have bright naked-eye stars, but both contain nearby clusters of galaxies (see below). The constellations are in the direction of the south Galactic pole (SGP, marked with a cross), where we look out of the Milky Way along its axis of rotation, so we see the galaxies through an unusually thin veil of foreground stars. This is quite unlike the situation in star-rich Sagittarius, where we gaze towards the Galactic centre, 90 degrees away across the sky.

This image was taken from the northern hemisphere Sculptor and Fornax are always close to the horizon.

Constellations adjoining Sculptor Cetus, Fornax, Grus, Phoenix, Piscis Austrinus.
Constellations adjoining Fornax Cetus, Eridanus, Phoenix, Sculptor.
Named star in Sculptor and Fornax: Fornacis (α For)

Related images (other sources -- see under 'Related Images' on the pages below)
AAT 23.     An edge-on spiral galaxy in Sculptor, NGC 253
AAT 55.     NGC 1365, a barred spiral galaxy in Fornax
AAT 56.     Sculptor group galaxy NGC 300
AAT 82.     NGC 1360, diffuse planetary nebula in Fornax
AAT 102.   NGC 55, an edge-on galaxy in the Sculptor Group
AAT 118.   NGC 1316-17, the radio galaxy Fornax A
UKS 13.     The Fornax Cluster of galaxies

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David Malin, 2009 October 15