The Constellation of the Furnace (Fornax - For)

The Constellation of the Furnace

It is a fairly large constellation, but with few bright stars. The brightest is in fact of 4th magnitude, which makes it invisible in the bright skies of cities, while it is well visible in the mountains, where the sky is certainly darker. In the star map made as always with Stellarium, we see that the Fornace is on the other side of the river Eridano compared to the magnificent Orion: this fact alone should allow an easy localization of the constellation wedged between the meanders of the river.

We will see shortly that the Fornace (the chemical laboratory stove) is very remarkable because of the very high number of deep sky objects present within its boundaries.

The name, history and myth of the Furnace

Once called Fornax Chimiae (Chemical Furnace), it is a constellation that the abbot Nicolas de Lacaille wanted to name after the scientific instrument of the chemical furnace (in French Forneau), in the 18th century and precisely in 1752.

The astronomer Johann Bode (1747-1826) proposed to name it after the French chemist Antoine Lavoiser (1743-1794).

The Furnace is a young constellation and therefore it appears neither in Hevelius' work nor in Uranometria, but only in the fido Stellarium.

the Constellation of the Furnace according to Stellarium

The nearby stars of the Furnace

As said, this time there are no big stars, not even a K-class one to compare to Aldebaran...

Vice versa there are three nearby stars (always on a cosmic scale), one of which is very close: it is a class M9 star, identified by the initials LP 944-20, which is placed at a distance of 16 to our Sun.

The second star for distance is placed at 41 al and is HIP 10798, a G8 class star that you could even see with the naked eye, having a 6.8 . Also the third star, no less than the α For, (which I anticipate to be called Dalim, but only by very few people) of class F8, is a little more distant, 46 al.

My friends from that area of the sky, the famous Ellepi, are a bit old-fashioned, 70's, so much so that the young people of today do not even know them, to the advantage of the Aipad, a very modern tribe of inhabitants of a nearby planet: the photo they sent me shows the Sun surrounded by stars of the northern hemisphere, as it is obvious that the location of the Fornace is given.

My other Dalimalimal friends have as characteristic a language that twists and melts as soon as they speak, but this has not prevented them from sending the ritual photo, where you can see our Sun in the midst of well-known stars such as Vega, Altair, Sirius, Arthur and Raccoon, where the intruder is as always Sirius, who appears here and there in the sky in the most unexpected places thanks to his proximity to our Solar System.

A riot of Deep sky objects

As anticipated, the constellation of the Furnace presents within it a long theory of galaxies, one more beautiful than the other, which we will see in strict numerical order, not to wrong anyone. But in the meantime let's start with a very delicate spheroidal star cluster, called Fornax Dwarf

the Fornax Dwarf spheroidal galaxy

Let's start now with the globular cluster NGC 1049

the globular cluster NGC 1049

the beautiful barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097, particularly impressive

the crossed-out spiral NGC 1097

Now we can admire the elliptical galaxy NGC 1316, also called Fornax-A because it is a radio-galaxy in probable interaction with a smaller object: here we can see it from afar

the elliptical galaxy NGC 1316, Fornax-A

while here we see a particular one taken from the HST

detail of the elliptical galaxy NGC 1316, Fornax-A

what to say instead of the magnificent NGC 1350, a spiral galaxy?

the spiral galaxy NGC 1350

Then we see the delicate planetary nebula NGC 1360

the planetary nebula NGC 1360

followed by the majestic and imposing barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365

the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365

A little smaller but linear and quiet is the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398

the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1398

Now we have the beautiful pair of elliptical galaxies NGC 1399 and NGC 1404.

the pair of elliptical galaxies NGC 1399 and NGC 1404

And finally we close with the strange elliptical galaxy NGC 1427

the elliptical galaxy NGC 1407

Did I tell you they were one more beautiful than the other?

Names of stars and visibility

There's only one star in the furnace with a name, definitely not used.

  • Dalim (α For): whose meaning is not known

As far as the visibility of the constellation is concerned, at the usual time of 9 p.m., it is low on the horizon, in the South-southeast, in the second decade of October, culminating in the South during the Christmas period and then low on the horizon, in the South-southwest, at the end of February of the following year.

Audio Video The Constellation of the Furnace (Fornax - For)
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