05 July 2021
1. Pictor means ‘painter’ in Latin
2. The constellation doesn’t depict the painter themselves but the painter’s easel
3. It was first known as Equuleus Pictoris, which translates more reliably as ‘the painter’s easel’, though it has since been shortened for simplicity’s sake
4. The constellation hosts no Messier objects
5. There are also no meteor showers associated with Pictor
The constellation of Pictor makes up a lop-sided ‘L’ resembling the hands of a clock when it is 12:40, and is said to depict the easel of a painter. The constellation of Pictor consists of 3 main stars, with its brightest star, Alpha Pictoris, being a well-known X-ray source, which is suggestive that it is a spectroscopic binary system.
The constellation was introduced by French astronomer, Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, in the 18th century. It can be seen in the far southern celestial hemisphere, and culminates each year in the month of March.
There are no myths associated with the constellation of Pictor, as it was simply named after the commonly found representation of an easel used by 18th century painters.
The constellation of Pictor is situated in the southern sky’s first quadrant, and is visible between latitudes -90 to +26 degrees. It neighbors the constellations of Caelum, Carina, Columba, Dorado, Puppis, and Volans.
Of the 3 main stars it consists of, Alpha Pictoris is the brightest, being a white main sequence star that is notable for being the South Pole star of Mercury; Beta Pictoris is the second brightest, being a white main sequence dwarf believed to have a large dust disk and young gas giant planet in its orbit; and Gamma Pictoris is this the third brightest, being an orange giant 174 lightyears from our sun.