05 July 2021

Fun Facts

1. Piscis Austrinius means ‘the southern fish’ in Latin
2. Also sometimes referred to as Piscis Australis
3. The constellation is first catalogued by Ptolemy, though its history dates back to ancient Babylonian times
4. Belongs to the ‘Heavenly Water’s family of constellations
5. Lies just south of Aquarius, and is sometimes associated with the zodiac

An overview

The constellation of Piscis Austrinius makes up a depiction of a fish with its mouth open, drinking water that is being poured out from Aquarius’ jar. The constellation consists of seven main stars, with the brightest, Fomalhaut, being one of the brightest stars in the earth’s night sky, with a luminosity 17 times that of the sun while only being 25 lightyears away from earth.

It is not one of the 12 Greek Zodiac constellations, though it is often associated with one—Aquarius. The constellation is one of the ancient constellations catalogued by Ptolemy, and is visible in the northern hemisphere from November to December, and in the Southern hemisphere throughout its spring nights.

The myth

Piscis Austrinius is said to be the parent of the two smaller fish of the Pisces zodiac. According to mythology, the Syrian fertility goddess, Derceto, had fell into a great lake near river Euphrates, in what is now northern Syria.

Fortunately, a large fish had rescued the unfortunate goddess, and the goddess would immortalize the fish in the stars, while also subsequently punishing all except her priests who would dare consume fish in their diet.

The constellation

The constellation of Piscis Austrinius is situated in the southern sky’s fourth quadrant, and is visible between latitudes -90 to +55 degrees. It lies nearby the constellations of Aquarius, Capricornus, Grus, Microscopium, and Sculptor, and belongs to the Heavenly Waters family of constellations along its other members such as Carina, Columba, Delphinus, Equuleus, Eridanus, Puppis, Pyxis, and Vela.

Of the seven main stars it consists, there exists two celestial bodies of note: Fomalhaut, also known Alpha Piscis Austrini, which is the brightest star in the constellation with two times our sun’s mass and radius; and Fomalhaut B, an orange dwarf star 25 lightyears away from our sun that is also believed to be somewhat of a travelling companion to its aforementioned counterpart.

Want to learn about other constellations aside from Piscis Austrinius? Find out more about Cygnus or Equuleus. Alternatively, you can simply click here for a full list of constellations.

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