The Indian Constellation (Indus - Ind)

The Indian constellation

In the introduction I said that it is a southern constellation, because it develops almost completely in the southern celestial hemisphere: the constellation is quite large and its northernmost part is right next to the constellation Crane, reaching a celestial latitude slightly north of that of the star AlNair.

Even its brightest star (α Ind) is in the same condition as AlNair: therefore it will be almost impossible to observe it, even with the horizon perfectly clear.

The name, history and myth of the Indian

The Indian is a weak constellation of the southern hemisphere of the celestial sphere, introduced by the Dutch navigators Pieter Keyser and Frederick de Houtman during 1500 and inserted for the first time in a catalogue by Johann Bayer in 1603. Like all the constellations introduced in this period, there is no mythology linked to asterism, it represents the American Indians, perhaps those from Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia encountered by Magellan at the beginning of the 16th century.

Let us now see the representation of the constellation in the star maps that we know well: in the Uranometria we see an Indian, without pens on his head but with a spear

the Indian constellation according to Hevelius

while according to Stellarium a large Indian chief is depicted, with arms folded and an eagle feather headdress on his head.

the Indian constellation according to Stellarium

Four stars of important size

comparison between the Indian stars and other very large and very well-known stars

From the comparison diagram with other larger and better known stars encountered during the various episodes of the column, we see that there are four that immediately attract our attention. We learned to immediately recognize the spectral class, from the color I used to represent them (through Illustrator): even in this situation I'll bring up the blameless Aldebaran.

The largest star is an orange giant of spectral class K1, β Ind, whose size is 56 times that of our Sun and much larger than Aldebaran.

Slightly smaller (so to speak!) is the other orange giant ζ Ind, spectral class K5, 40 times the size of our yellow dwarf: even in this case Aldebaran is outdated, albeit by little.

The last bigger stars of the constellation are only slightly smaller than α Tau and they are the orange giant κ2 Ind, spectral class K4 and the red giant ο Ind, spectral class M0, with a diameter respectively 32 and 31 times that of the Sun,

Since we are comparing these 4 stars with Aldebaran, I made a collage of the photos that my friends (Indomitable, Indomitable, Back and Indue respectively) and the more snobbish Aldebarans sent me at my request: in all cases the star was photographed (thanks to Celestia, let's not forget it) from the distance of 10 UA , which is on average that of the planet Saturn from the Sun. About my interstellar friends, I dwell on the last two: the race of the Backwards derives its name from the fact that already in ancient times they knew that their star (Kappaduinda) was slightly smaller than Aldebaran, while the last ones, the Hindus, derive their name from the awareness that even their sun (Omicrinda) is smaller than Aldebaran and for this reason it is better to be in two to suffer, in light of their motto "bad common half joy".

But let's leave aside the jokes to return once again to the fact that Aldebaran draws (rightly!) its notoriety from the fact that it is a star of first magnitude located at just 65 light years (al) from our Sun: the four stars of the Indian (which I remember to be β, ζ, κ2 and ο) are once again practically anonymous stars because they are respectively of magnitude 3.65, 4.9, 5.6 and 5.5, since their distance from the Sun is much greater and equal to 612, 412, 491 and 543 light years: it goes without saying that if they had been closer, at least they would have been brighter. I leave it to the intrepid readers with a mathematical streak to find out what theirs would be if they were all at the same distance as Aldebaran.

Let's move now to the star ε Ind, important because it is at the small distance of 11.82 al from our Sun, being so the seventeenth star system in the list: it is a fifth star and therefore visible to the naked eye, of star class K5 (another relative of Aldebaran), but this time we are dealing with an orange dwarf since its diameter is equal to 0.76 times that of the Sun. I have spoken about star system, since this star is accompanied by two brown dwarfs (ε Ind Ba and ε Ind Bb), both discovered in 2003. Another peculiar characteristic of this star is its high own motion, which puts it in the third place in this special classification, after Groombridge 1830 (in the Big Dipper) and 61 Cyg: for this reason, based on its speed, it has been calculated that in the far 2640 the star will leave the Indian constellation to enter the Toucan one.

And now other factions about this nearby star: my Industrialized friends have sent me a picture of our Sun seen from their planet. Our yellow dwarf appears of 2.6 very close to the other stars of the big wagon: from them it is part of the famous "eight stars of the Big Dipper", all placed in Ottontrione.

I forgot to say that on their planet Indus the main activity is fishing for what they call Bastoncino, a strange orange fish with a square and elongated shape that lives in their seas below the frozen sea ice, at a temperature below zero: they swear they don't know our advertisements and that their Indus Fingers are very well known in the galaxy...

But let us now return to more serious discussions by analysing together the ...

Deep sky objects

In this nice constellation there are really remarkable deep sky objects: we see them together in these photos taken by the mythical HST. Let's start from a fantastic galaxy equipped with a dust ring: it's the NGC 7049

the wonderful galaxy NGC 7049

Then we move on to the irregular galaxy IC 5152.

the irregular galaxy IC 5152

Now it's the turn of the wonderful barred spiral galaxy NGC 7090...

the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7090

Really beautiful is the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7083.

the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7083

Here we see the elliptical galaxy NGC 7041.

the elliptical galaxy NGC 7041

and close with the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7064.

the barred spiral galaxy NGC 7064

Names of stars and visibility

Among the stars of the Indian, only one has received a name, which I think has never been used by someone and that I report only on a curiosity level

  • The Persian (α Ind): I don't understand what a Persian (the cat or a person?) has to do with an Indian...

As for the very poor visibility of the constellation at the convenient time of 9 p.m., it is to be said that it appears just above the horizon, to the south, in the first days of October.

Audio Video The Indian Constellation (Indus - Ind)
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