Pavo constellation contains five stars with confirmed planets and one named star. Its name, as approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), is Peacock. Peacock is also the brightest star in the constellation and has an apparent magnitude of 1.94.
The constellation is not home to any Messier objects, but there is one meteor shower associated with the constellation: the Delta Pavonids. Part of the constellation is known as “the Saucepan” in Australia and is used as a guide to finding the south.
History and Mythology of the Pavo Constellation
Pavo was introduced by the Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius from the observations of Dutch navigators Frederick de Houtman and Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser in the late 16th century. It first appeared on a celestial globe published in 1598 in Amsterdam by Plancius with Jodocus Hondius. The first depiction of this constellation in a celestial atlas was in German cartographer Johann Bayer’s Uranometria of 1603. De Houtman included it in his southern star catalogue the same year under the Dutch name De Pauww, “The Peacock”.
In Greek mythology, the peacock was Hera’s sacred bird and she drove through the air in a chariot drawn by peacocks.
In one myth, Io, a beautiful princess of Argos, was lusted after by Zeus, who changed Io into a heifer to deceive his wife Hera and couple with her. Hera saw through Zeus’s scheme and asked for the heifer as a gift. Zeus reluctantly gave the heifer to Hera, who banished Io and arranged for Argus Panoptes, a creature with one hundred eyes, to guard the now-pregnant Io from Zeus.
Meanwhile, Zeus asked Hermes to save Io, who used music to lull Argus Panoptes to sleep, then slew him. Hera adorned the tail of a peacock—her favorite bird—with Argus’s eyes in his honor.
Location of the Pavo Constellation
Pavo is the 44th largest constellation and occupies an area of 378 square degrees. It is located in the fourth quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ4) and can be seen at latitudes between +30° and -90°.
Its right ascension is 18h 10.4m to 21h 32.4m and its declination is −56° 35.4′ to −74° 58.8′. It is best seen at 9pm, during the month of August. As one of the deep southern constellations, it remains below the horizon at latitudes north of the 30th parallel in the Northern Hemisphere, and is circumpolar at latitudes south of the 50th parallel in the Southern Hemisphere.
Pavo’s neighboring constellations are Apus, Ara, Indus, Octans and Telescopium and it belongs to the Johann Bayer family of constellations, along with Apus, Chamaeleon, Dorado, Grus, Hydrus, Indus, Musca, Phoenix, Tucana and Volans.
Peacock, also known as Alpha Pavonis, is the brightest star in Pavo and has an apparent magnitude of 1.94. It is located around 179 light years away from Earth, near the border with the constellation Telescopium.
Peacock is a blue-white subgiant star belonging to the spectral class B2 IV and is also a spectroscopic binary with an orbital period of 11.753 days. It has a mass six times that of the Sun and a radius five to six times that of the Sun. It is also 2,200 times more luminous than the Sun.
The star was given the name Peacock by Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office in the late 1930s.
Beta Pavonis is the second brightest star in the constellation and has a visual magnitude of 3.42. It is a white giant of the spectral class A7III and is 58 times more luminous than the Sun and has 3.8 times the solar radius. It is located around 135 light years away from the Solar System.
Delta Pavonis is a subgiant star with the stellar classification G8 IV and an apparent magnitude of 3.56. It is located 19.92 light years away from us and is one of the nearest bright stars to the Sun. It can be seen without binoculars from the southern hemisphere.
Delta Pavonis is slightly less massive than the Sun with 99.1% of the Sun’s mass and 122% of the Sun’s radius. It is 22% more luminous than the Sun and is thought to be between 6.6 and 6.9 billion years old.
The star also has a 214% abundance of iron in its atmosphere compared to the Sun. This sometimes indicates the presence of a planet in a star’s orbit, but none have been discovered in Delta Pavonis yet.
Gamma Pavonis is a solar type star that belongs to the spectral class F9V. It is around 30.21 light years away from us and it has an apparent magnitude of 4.22. It is 152% more luminous than the Sun, has a mass 21% greater and a 15% larger radius.
Phi-2 Pavonis, also known as HD 196378, is a yellow-white dwarf star that belongs to the spectral class F8V with an apparent magnitude of 5.12. It is located around 81.6 light years away from Earth and is currently in the process of evolving into a subgiant.
Lambda Pavonis is a bright irregular variable ranging between magnitudes 3.4 and 4.4 which can be observed with the naked eye. It is also classified as a Gamma Cassiopeiae variable or shell star and is of spectral type B2II-IIIe. It is located around 1430 light years distant from Earth.
Kappa Pavonis is a W Virginis variable, which is a subclass of Type II Cepheid. It is a yellow-white supergiant pulsating between spectral classes F5I-II and G5I-II. It’s magnitude ranges from magnitude 3.91 to 4.78 over 9 days.
Eta Pavonis is a luminous orange giant of spectral type K2II. It has an apparent magnitude 3.6 and is located around 350 light years away from Earth.
Xi Pavonis is a multiple star system visible in small telescopes and composed of a brighter orange star and fainter white companion. Located around 470 light years from Earth, the system has a magnitude of 4.38.
Nu Pavonis is a pulsating semiregular variable red giant star with the spectral type M6III and ranges from magnitude 4.9 to 5.3.
HD 181433 has the stellar classification of K3III-IV, which puts it on the borderline between being a red giant and a subgiant. It has an apparent magnitude of 8.38 and can’t be seen without a telescope and is 87 light years away from Earth.
Deep Sky Objects
NGC 6752 is a globular cluster and the third brightest globular star cluster in the night sky. It has an apparent magnitude of 5.4 and is located around 13,000 light years away from the Solar System. At over 10 billion years old, it is also one the most ancient collections of stars known.
NGC 6782 is a barred spiral galaxy located around 183 million light years away from us. It has a visual magnitude of 11.8.
NGC 6744, also known as Caldwell 101, is an intermediate spiral galaxy and one of the most similar nearby galaxies to the Milky Way. It is located around 31 million light years away from us and has an apparent magnitude of 9.14.
NGC 6872 and IC 4970
NGC 6872 and IC 4970 are a pair of interacting galaxies that are around 220 million light years away from the Solar System.
The NGC 6872 galaxy is the larger of the two, one of the largest known, and spans almost 380,000 light years. It has an apparent magnitude of 12.7. It is a barred spiral galaxy shaped like an integral sign and has one significantly disrupted spiral arm which is home to many young blue stars.
The IC 4970 galaxy is a type E7-S0 elliptical galaxy with an apparent magnitude of 14.7.
IC 4687, IC 4689 and IC 4686
IC 4687, IC 4689 and IC 4686 are a triplet of interacting and merging galaxies that are located around 250 million light years away from the Solar System. They will eventually merge into one giant galaxy. At the moment they are home to many starburst regions consisting of millions of hot, young blue stars.
IC 4687 has a disk of stars and deformed spiral arms as a result of the collision with its neighbours. IC 4686 has a very bright nucleus and IC 4689 has a distinct hook.
- The three-letter abbreviation for the constellation, as adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1922, is “Pav”.
- The official constellation boundaries, as set by Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte in 1930, are defined by a polygon of 10 segments.
- The Wardaman people of the Northern Territory in Australia saw the stars of Pavo and the neighbouring constellation Ara as flying foxes.
- Some Images created with the NightVision app – https://www.nvastro.com/nvj.html
- Some Images created with the Stelvision Sky Map https://www.stelvision.com/en/sky-map/
- Pavo 1 – https://starregistration.net/constellations/pavo-constellation.html
- Pavo 2 -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavo_(constellation)
- NGC 6752 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_6752
- Pavo 3 -https://in-the-sky.org/data/constellation.php?id=62
- NGC 6782 -https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_6782
- IC 4687, IC 4689 and IC 4686 – https://hubblesite.org/contents/media/images/2008/16/2341-Image.html?news=true
- NGC 6744 – https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap180810.html
- NGC 6872 and IC 4970 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NGC_6872