Constellation Sail (Vela - Vel)

The name, the story, the myth

The constellation of the Sail was introduced by Lacaille in the 18th century, when it divided the old and vast constellation of the Ship Argo in other four smaller constellations, and this small constellation represents just the sail of the ship used by Jason and his Argonauts.


Located west of the Centaur looking south, the Sail is only partially visible from Italy. For a complete vision you have to descend to latitudes lower than 33° North. The opposition to the Sun is around mid-February, when it transits in meridian at midnight.

Heavenly bodies

The brightest star of the constellation is Gamma, since Alpha and Beta of the old Ship Argo were assigned to the constellation Carena.
Inside the Sail there is the false cross, four stars that can sometimes be mistaken for the Southern Cross.
From a non-stellar point of view, the Gum Nebula is of particular importance.
In September 2017 a study by ESO led by Elyar Sedaghati, published in Nature, revealed for the first time the presence of titanium oxide in the atmosphere of the planet WASP-19b, orbiting the star WASP-19. The planet has almost the mass of Jupiter but travels its orbit in 19 hours, with an equilibrium temperature of about 2000 degrees Celsius. The observation through ESO's Very Large Telescope has reached details never reached before, analyzing the planet's atmosphere in a very precise way. Titanium oxide on Earth is very rare but it is known to be present in the atmospheres of cold stars. On an exoplanet such as WASP-19b it absorbs heat and if it was present in greater quantities it would cause a phenomenon opposite to the greenhouse effect.

Audio Video Constellation Sail (Vela - Vel)
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Constellation Stern of the Argonauts' ship (Puppis-Pup) ❯
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