Antlia constellation: Facts & Myth

The Antlia constellation is a small star constellation usually found in the southern celestial hemisphere. This constellation contains four brighter stars. The stars are brighter than the fifth magnitude. Despite the brightness, Antlia is only visible around February only.  This constellation lies closer to the Milky Way plane and contains a few deep sky objects. This constellation was named Antlia Pneumatica as a way of commemorating the invitation of the air pump.

  1. History
  2. Stars & Facts
  3. Deep Sky Objects

History of the Antlia constellation

Established and cataloged by Abbe Nicolas de Lacaille, a French astronomer in the 18th century. The Antlia was created with 13 other constellations all created and introduced by Abbe Nicolas to fill the void of some regions in the southern celestial hemisphere. All constellation introduced by Lacaille have no myths. Most of them are named after scientific instruments. John Herschel later abbreviated the Antlia Pneumatica name to Antlia. The name Antlia Pneumatica was given in 1756 by Lacaille. Constellation Antlia is visible from the latitudes of between +45 and -90 degrees north.

Stars of the Antlia constellation & Facts

The Antlia constellation brightest star is known as the Alpha Antliae. Though this is the brightest star in the Antlia constellation, the star is not brighter than 3.000 magnitudes. The stars in the constellation are located many light years from the earth. The Alpha Antliae is the nearest star. It is an orange dwarf that is 370 light years from our planet earth. The Alpha Antliae star is suspected to be a variable star, which ranges between an apparent magnitude of 4.22 and 4.29.

Scientists have estimated that Alpha, which is suspected to be a variable star, shines around 480 to 555 times the solar luminosity. As Wikipedia puts it, “it is most likely an aging star that is brightening and on its way to becoming a Mira variable star, having converted all its core fuel into carbon.”

The Zeta Antliae is a double star that can be spotted using binoculars. This start lies near the Pyxis constellation border. Zeta one is a binary star which is composed of two other white type-A sequence dwarfs. The other star in Zeta Antliae, the Zeta two is an A-type subgiant star.

Another star in the Antlia constellation is the Delta Antliae. The Delta is a triple star. It is the primary component of the spectroscopic binary and is classified as the blue-white type-B dwarf in the sequence. Delta Antliae is approximately 420 light years from the earth and has a magnitude of 5.6. The secondary sequence star is a yellow-white type F9Ve with and magnitude of up to 9-6.

The T Antliae makes another part of the Antlia constellation. The T Antliae is composed of the white A-type dwarf and the yellow-white type-F bright giant. This Antliae is approximately 900 light years from the earth. Other Antliae in the Antlia constellation include the Eta, a double composed yellow-white star. The U Antliae a red C-type start that is irregular variable. The U Antliae ranges between 5.27 and 6.04 magnitudes.

The last is the Epsilon Antliae and the Iota Antiliae. Epsilon is an orange k3-type giant. While the Iota is approximately 710 light years from the earth, the Antliae is another double star in the constellation. The Epsilon occupies a space that is 69 times more than that of our sun and has around 1279 sun’s luminosity. Epsilon is slightly variable. Just like Epsilon, the Iota Antliae is an orange giant start of the k1-type spectra.

Deep Sky Objects

Antlia occupies an area of about 239 square degrees. Its 62nd and size and located second quadrant. The neighboring constellations are the Vela, Centaurus, and hydra. It contains other sky objects like the Spiral galaxy NGC 2997, which is sometimes referred to us as the ESO 434-G 35. This sky object appears like a nucleus. The ESO 434-G 35 lies approximately 24.8 million light years from our planet earth and appear in the midst of a hot giant clouds chain.

Another space object found in the Antlia constellation is the NGC 3132. This is a bright planetary nebula which can be seen near the Vela constellation border. The NGC 3132 appears to be a misty elliptical. This sky object has a full magnitude that is brighter than the known Ring Nebula in the Lyra constellation.

The Antlia constellation also has the NGC 2997 sky object. The object is the brightest. At a magnitude of 10.6, NGC 29997 is a loosely type SC wound spiral galaxy.

Discovered in 1997, the Antlia Dwarf is a “14.8m dwarf spheroidal galaxy that belongs to the Local Group of galaxies.”  Other sky objects are Virgo Cluster, Fornax Cluster, Antlia Cluster, among others. These clusters are about 40.5 MPC and 40.9 MPC.

Covering an area of up to 238.9 square degrees and ranked 62nd among the 88 constellations by area, it means that the Antlia constellation occupies the whole southern celestial hemisphere. The Antlia is visible to those observing from 49oN.


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