Fornax, "The Furnace", is another of those constellations created
by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the mid-eighteenth century; he took
several dozen fairly bright stars away from the middle of Eridanus and
called the result Fornax Chemica.
Alpha Fornacis is an easy visual binary, however the most
noteworthy object in this constellation is the Fornax Galaxy
Cluster (see below).
The asterism is a rather uninspired connection
of its three brightest stars. In general the Bayer
stars are fourth and fifth magnitude.
Alpha Fornacis is a visual binary with orbit of 314 years. The 2000 epoch values are 4.0,
7.0; PA 299º, separation 5.1".
Gamma1A and gamma1B For form a
faint triple system: .
AB: 6.0, 12; PA 145º, 12".
C: 11; 143º, 41".
Omega For is a fixed binary: 5.0, 7.7; PA 244º, 10.8".
Nu Fornacis is an alpha CV type variable: 4.68-4.73 every 1.9
Deep Sky Objects:
In the southeastern corner of Fornax, on the border with Eridanus, is a
collection of bright galaxies which go by the collective name of "The
Fornax Galaxy Cluster".
Eighteen galaxies make up the cluster. The brightest is NGC 1316
(which is also a radio source called Fornax A). NGC 1399
is nearly as bright; the third brightest, NGC 1365, is a splendid
barred spiral seen face on, with open spiral arms.
NGC 1316 is 2º SW of chi3 For;
NGC 1365 is 1º ESE of chi3 For;
NGC 1399 is 2º E of chi2 For.
See also the Binocular Section.