Constellations: Sculptor 'the Sculptor'
Created | Updated Dec 18, 2016
Camelopardalis | Cancer | Canes Venatici | Canis Major | Canis Minor | Capricornus | Carina | Cassiopeia | Centaurus
Cepheus | Cetus | Chamæleon | Circinus | Columba | Coma Berenices | Corona Australis | Corona Borealis | Corvus
Crater | Crux | Cygnus | Delphinus | Dorado | Draco | Equuleus | Eridanus | Fornax | Gemini | Grus | Hercules | Horologium
Hydra | Hydrus | Indus | Lacerta | Leo | Leo Minor | Lepus | Libra | Lupus | Lynx | Lyra | Mensa | Microscopium | Monoceros
Musca | Norma | Octans | Ophiuchus | Orion | Pavo | Pegasus | Perseus | Phoenix | Pictor | Pisces | Piscis Austrinus
Puppis | Pyxis | Reticulum | Sagitta | Sagittarius | Scorpius | Sculptor | Scutum | Serpens | Sextans | Taurus
Telescopium | Triangulum | Triangulum Australe | Tucana | Ursa Major | Ursa Minor | Vela | Virgo | Volans | Vulpecula
For Michelangelo, the job of the sculptor is to free the forms that, he believed, were already inside the stone.
– Ascanio Condivi: The Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti
|Area:||475 sq deg|
|Co-ordinates1:||Right Ascension 0h, Declination −30°|
Sculptor is a small southern constellation bordered by Cetus, Aquarius, Piscis Austrinus, Grus, Phoenix and Fornax. It was originally named l'Atelier du Sculpteur (the sculptor's studio) by the man who created it, French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713 - 62), making it up using stars 'borrowed' from Cetus and Phoenix before the boundaries were set.
Johann Elert Bode presented it as Apparatus Sculptoris in his 1801 star atlas Uranographia, and it was shortened to the name which survives today when the IAU (International Astronomical Union) eliminated all but the now officially recognised 88. Sculptor is an indistinct constellation with no bright stars, but it is noteworthy because it contains a prototype variable star and the South Galactic Pole.
The scientific star names are lower case Greek letters combined with the genitive name of the constellation, known as the 'Bayer designation' after the man who devised the system. Some stars have common names as well, for example, alpha Tauri is Aldebaran, but none of the stars of Sculptor are named. Other stars, like HD 4208, are known by their catalogue numbers. Newly-discovered variable stars, like VY Sculptoris, are given upper case English letters.
Alpha Sculptoris is a blue-white giant with a variable magnitude, belonging to the class type of SX Arietis variable stars.
Delta Sculptoris is a circumfluent triple star system comprising a binary pair of white dwarfs which orbit each other, and a much more distant +9.5 mag yellow dwarf which encompasses them both.
Epsilon Sculptoris is a binary system whose components measure +5.4 and +8.6 magnitude. They take over a thousand years to orbit each other.
Zeta Sculptoris is part of the Zeta Sculptoris Cluster, an open star cluster which has over 30 members.
VY Sculptoris is a white dwarf given its own sub-class: magnetic cataclysmic variable star.
|α||alpha Sculptoris||+4.3 var||672||Blue-white giant|
|β||beta Sculptoris||+4.4||170||Blue-white sub-giant|
|γ||gamma Sculptoris||+4.4 var||171||Orange giant|
|ζ||zeta Sculptoris||+4.5 var||87||Member of the
Zeta Sculptoris Cluster
|δ||delta Sculptoris||+4.6 var||136||Multiple system|
|η||eta Sculptoris||+4.8 var||500||Red giant|
|θ||theta Sculptoris||+5.2 var||70||Yellow-white dwarf|
|ε||epsilon Sculptoris||+5.4 and +8.6||90||Binary system|
|R||R Sculptoris||+6 var||1,545||Carbon star|
|VY||VY Sculptoris||Variable||Magnetic cataclysmic variable|
The New General Catalogue was compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer (the director of the Armagh Observatory from 1882 to 1916). This was later expanded to include newer discoveries, and is being continually updated as the NGC/IC Project.
NGC 253 is also known as The Sculptor Galaxy. This starburst spiral, almost edge-on from our vantage point, was discovered by Caroline Herschel in 1783. The Sculptor Galaxy is one of the closest beyond our 'local' group of galaxies, lying at a distance of 11 million light years2. There was a supernova registered in this galaxy in 1940, thus it was catalogued SN 1940E.
NGC 288 is an unnamed globular star cluster, but it's far from unknown. It has been listed 'Hidden Treasure 4' in the Cambridge University Catalogue, and Herefordshire clergyman the Rev Thomas William Webb included it in his 1859 book Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes.
NGC 613 is a barred spiral galaxy which has undergone extensive study due to its highly active nucleus. The gas being expelled is indicative of a supermassive black hole. Unusually for a barred spiral, this galaxy has many arms, giving it a more distinctive appearance.
The Cartwheel Galaxy is a lenticular galaxy with starburst formation which was imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray observatory. Its unusual shape reveals that at some time in its history, possibly a billion years ago, it underwent a collision with a neighbouring galaxy. Certainly it's remarkable to see a galaxy with a brighter outside rim than the central core, which is probably why this fabulous diva of a galaxy was so named. The Hubble image of the Cartwheel Galaxy was one of the early choices of the editors of Astronomy Picture of the Day.
NGC 7793 is a star-forming spiral galaxy ten million light years distant which has been imaged with the infrared array camera (IRAC) for the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey (SINGS) Legacy Project.
IC 5332 is a face-on spiral galaxy with widely-spaced arms which are completely symmetrical. This is a stand-alone galaxy, it is not part of the Sculptor Group.
Deep Space Objects
|Blanco 1||Zeta Sculptoris Cluster||Open cluster||+4.5||87||+30 stars|
|NGC 288||NGC 288||Globular cluster||+8.1||28,700||Discovered by William Herschel
in October 1785
|NGC 613||ESO 413-11||Barred spiral galaxy||+10||65 million||Many arms/Black hole|
|NGC 253||Sculptor Galaxy||Starburst galaxy||+8||11 million||Edge-on spiral/Black hole|
|NGC 55||Dun 507||Irregular galaxy||+8.2||7 million||Edge-on|
|NGC 300||Dun 530||Spiral galaxy||+8.7||8 million||Sd III-IV|
|NGC 7793||Dun 608||Starburst galaxy||+9.1||10 million||Spiral imaged by Spitzer|
|IC 5332||Dun 546||Spiral galaxy||+10.6||25 million||Face-on|
|ESO 350-40||Cartwheel Galaxy||Starburst||N/A||400 million||Post-collision|
|ESO 349-G31||Sculptor Dwarf (SDIG)||Irregular galaxy||+15.5||Local group||Discovered in 1977
by Lautsen et al
|Abell 2744||Pandora's Cluster3||Post-collision of|
four galaxy clusters
350 million years
Extrasolar Planets in Sculptor
Some extrasolar planetary systems have been found in the constellation Sculptor. Figures given in the table below are the length of the planet's orbital period around its parent star, which is its 'year', and the mass of the extrasolar planet compared to that of Jupiter, our Solar System's largest planet, known by astronomers as the 'Jovian scale'.
Extrasolar Planets Table
|Star name or
|Year of discovery||Comments|
|HD 4208||HD 4208 b||0.8||812||2001||Gas giant|
|HD 4113||HD 4113 b||1.56||526||2007||Gas giant|
|WASP-8||WASP-8 b||2.24||8.15||2008||Hot superjovian|
|HD 9578||HD 9578 b||0.62||494||2009||Gas giant|
|WASP-45||WASP-45 b||1||3.12||2011||Hot gas giant|
Sculptor Down to Earth
Sculpting is an artform which has been created and appreciated since antiquity. Sculptures like Rodin's 'The Thinker' and the great beauty 'Venus de Milo' are priceless treasures. One of the earliest-known sculptors was Thutmose (aka Djutmose) who created the fabulously iconic bust of Queen Nefertiti around 1340 BC.
Sculptures can be formed from almost any solid material, including ice. The famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, melts every spring, so a new hotel has to be built in its place, and specially-selected sculptors are engaged to create new artwork for the rooms. Ice sculptures, possibly carved with a chain-saw, are popular centrepieces at weddings and other big celebrations.
Sculptures in the Edited Guide
'The Three Graces' by Antonio Canova