English: The Microscope
Size Ranking: 66th
Area: 210 square degrees
Fully visible: 45°N-90°S.
Microscopium, the Microscope.
This is a faint constellation to the south of Capricornus and was introduced in the 18th century by the French astronomer, Nicolas Louis de Lascaille. As with so many of his constellations, Microscopium is little more than a filler, encompassing a few faint stars between better known figures.
A further guide is to locate ‘Fomalhaut’ join αPsA, and ‘Nunki’, σSgr (see map) with a line and the midpoint of this line will almost coincide with γMic.
Features of Interest:
αMic is a yellow giant star of magnitude 4.9, distance 381ly, and it is accompanied by a 10th magnitude star, separation 20.5”, PA 160°.
γMic, the brightest star in this constellation, is another yellow giant 224ly away and magnitude 4.7.
By comparison, the small fifth star in the lower right-hand quadrant of the Southern Cross is of brighter magnitude 3.6.
εMic is a blue-white main sequence star, magnitude 4.7 and is 165ly distant.
When the spectral type of a star is plotted against its actual luminosity (absolute magnitude), all of the stars that are in stable, hydrogen burning-middle age are found to lie in a well-defined band which runs from the lower left-hand corner of the graph up to its upper left-hand corner. Stars that fall on or near this line on the graph are known as ‘main sequence stars’.
1. Redshift 2 – Maris Multimedia
2. The Guinness Book of Astronomy – Patrick Moore
3. Stars and Planets – Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion
4. Sky Charts – Cartes du Ciel V 2.75.