Piscis Austrinus

Piscis Austrinus

Transit Date of principal star:
5 September

Piscis Austrinus, also known as Piscis Australis, is a fish lying on its back, drinking in the waters pouring from the jars of Aquarius. The asterism leaves a lot to the imagination.

The constellation was known in ancient times, and is said to be the original "Pisces". It is thought that the constellation referred to the Assyrian fish god Dagon and the Babylonian god Oannes. Even the Arabs called the constellation Al Hut al Janubiyy (The Large Southern Fish).

The bright star Fomalhaut (alpha PsA) was so named from Fum al Hut, meaning "The Fish's Mouth", although it carried many other names as well, including Al Difdi al Awwal ("The First Frog").
There are several fine binaries here, as well as a red dwarf with the fourth highest proper motion. Except for Fomalhaut, all other stars in this constellation are fourth or fifth magnitude.

Double stars:

Piscis Austrinus has several visual binaries, either fixed or moving very slowly.

Beta PsA is a fixed binary: 4.5, 7.5; 172 degrees, 30.4".

Delta PsA is a fairly wide but faint binary: 4.5, 10; 244 degrees, 5".

Gamma PsA: 4.5, 8.5; 262 degrees, 4.3".

Eta PsA: 5.5, 6.5; 116 degrees, 1.6".

Variable stars:

Piscis Austrinus has no notable variables.

Deep Sky Objects:

NGC 7172 is a spiral galaxy seen almost edge-on; there is a dark equatorial band seen with larger scopes. The galaxy is two degrees NW of mu PsA.

In the same field, just to the south, lie three more galaxies: 7173, 7174, and 7176.

Lacaille 9352 is a red dwarf 11.68 light years away, with a visual magnitude of 7.44. It has a proper motion of 6.901", fourth highest (after Barnard's Star, Kapteyn's Star, and Groombridge 1830).

Lacaille 9352 is found one degree SE of pi PsA; Burnham has a finder's chart.

For a more detailed appreciation of Piscis Austrinus, visit the Binocular Section.

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