Sculptor is one of those obscure constellations
invented by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille to help fill in part of the southern
sky. The full name was "L'Atelier du Sculpteur", the Sculptor's Studio.
Its stars are generally fourth and fifth
magnitude. The constellation is has two binaries with very long orbits,
a couple of nice variables, and several spiral galaxies.
Delta Sculptoris is a multiple system:
AB: 4.6, 11.5; 243º, 4".
C: 9.5; 297º, 75".
Epsilon Sculptoris is a slow moving binary with an orbit of about
1200 years: 5.4, 8.6; currently 23º, 4.7".
Kappa1 Scl: 6.1, 6.2; 265º, 1.4".
Tau Scl is another slow moving binary; it takes nearly 1900 years
to make one revolution: 6.0, 7.1; 340º, 2.1".
R Sculptoris is a deep red semi-variable, ranging from
9.1 to 12.9; the period is roughly 370 days.
The star lies almost midway between sigma and pi Scl, slightly toward
S Sculptoris is a bright Mira-type variable ranging from 5.5 to
13.6. It has a period of 367 days, which means that it brightens up at
just about the same time every year. Thus, until the year 2000 it should
reach its maximum during the last week in August; in 2000 the maximum
should occur in mid-August.
The star is 3º NNE of theta Sculptoris.
Deep Sky Objects:
NGC 55 is a spiral galaxy, seen nearly edge-on. It's located twelve degrees southwest of alpha Scl.
The nearest star to this galaxy is alpha Phoenicis, which lies three and a half degrees southeast.
This is, perhaps, a member of the so-called Sculptor Group, which is one of the
nearest galaxy clusters closest to the Milky Way, at about 8 million light years.
NGC 253 is considered one of the easiest spiral galaxies to observe, apart from M31 in Andromeda. This is the brighest spiral of the Sculptor Group. It's found 5º NNW of alpha Sculptoris.
For a more detailed appreciation of Sculptor visit the Binocular Section.
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© Richard Dibon-Smith.