γ Velorum

Gamma Velorum is Suhail, although as this name is shared with lambda Velorum, some observers (such as Jim Kaler) prefer to call the star Regor. This is Roger spelled backwards, and honours the American astronaut Roger Chaffee, one of the victims of the Apollo I fire, 27 January 1967. This name has not exactly caught on either.

To find the star start at the false cross in Carina and Vela and from the shorter arm draw an imaginary line westward; this will bring you to gamma Velorum.

Gamma2 is a renowned member of a group of very hot and luminous stars called Wolf-Rayet stars. In fact, it's the brightest member of this group, and quite possibly the most massive of this type of star. As such it is constantly subjected to a great deal of study.

A WR star is characterised by very high stellar winds which causes the star to lose most of its mass very quickly (in astronomical terms, perhaps less than a million years). This results in a loss of hydrogen and the star then begins to burn helium, at a very high surface temperature (i.e. 70,000 Kelvin). Eventually the star will end its life as a supernova.

Gamma1,2 Velorum is a noted multiple binary (DUN 65) with very wide companions; gamma2 is the primary:
     AB (greenish, blue): 1.8, 4.1; 221, 40.3".
     AC (white): 1.8, 7.3; 152, 61.5".
     AD (white): 1.8, 9.3; 142, 93.5".

There are several objects of interest in the same field as gamma Velorum. To the south is the star cluster NGC 2547; there are three binary systems as well and the variable AI.

AI is a short-period pulsating variable about 3 north of gamma (Burnham p. 2039 has a locating chart). It has a rapid period of 2h 41m at which time it fluctuates from 6.4 to 7.1; during this time it changes colour from white to pale yellow.
      In fact the pulsations are quite complex rather than neatly uniform, which makes the star a favourite for prolonged observation.

NGC 2547 is an extremely young cluster in astronomical terms, 25-30 million years old; this is evident in the bright blue stars scattered throughout the cluster which also has a dozen or so reddish members, making a very attractive sight.

Two of the binaries found here are very close, the third may be binocular-accessible:
      B Vel (I 67): 5.1, 6.1; 136, 0.7".
     h4069: 5.8, 8.7; 249, 32.1".
     See 96: 6.2, 7.7; 275, 0.6".


From gamma Velorum move one field to the east: binoculars. This very rich field of stars holds a number of interesting objects.

Near the centre of your viewing area should be the bright star b Velorum. This is a binary (h4127) with quite faint but wide companion: 3.9, 10.3; 58, 37.1".

A Velorum, on the southwest edge of your field, is a multiple system (h4104):
     AB: 5.5, 7.2; 250, 3.0".
     AC: 5.5, 9.2; 40, 19.6".

Finally, the star cluster IC 2395 is just south of b Velorum.


Now with b Velorum centred, one binocular field south brings you to delta Velorum, on the extreme southern edge.

Click on delta on the map to continue.

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.