α Sculptoris

Alpha Sculptoris is the eastern-most tip of this simple asterism apparently representing an artist's easel.

The 4.3 magnitude star is the brightest in the constellation, as well as one of the most distant at 675 light years.

To find alpha Sculptoris drop due south of beta Ceti about twelve degrees (about two and a half binocular fields) and slightly to the east: binoculars.


You might want to pause after just one binocular field south of beta Ceti for the bright spiral galaxy NGC 253: binoculars.
     This ninth-magnitude galaxy, nine million light years away, is seen almost edge-on. While you can find the object with binoculars it takes at least a medium-sized telescope to pick out the spiral arms.

NGC 253 is a member of the Sculptor Group of Galaxies. NGC 253 is the brightest member at an apparent magnitude of 8.0, which means it is the most accessible member of this group, which includes over a dozen galaxies. For some time it was thought that NGC 55 was also a member of this group, however recent studies now put this association in question.

Back down to alpha, now a little over a binocular field east for pi Sculptoris, an orange giant, and its neighbour tau Sculptoris, a yellow-white dwarf with close companion (h3447): 6.0, 7.4; 185, 0.8".

In this same field of view is R Sculptoris, a Mira-type variable with deep red colour; it fluctuates from 9.1 to 12.9 every 370 days.

With pi Sculptoris centred, move north a little over one field to epsilon. This star, just at the northeast corner of the constellation, is a binary (h3461)AB: 5.4, 8.5; 20, 5.1" with a perfectly circular orbit of 1192 years.

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.