Sculptor (constellation)

Sculptor (constellation)

Abbreviation Scl
Genitive Sculptoris
Pronunciation ,
Symbolism the Sculptor
Right ascension 0
Declination −30
Family La Caille
Quadrant SQ1
Area 475 sq. deg. (36th)
Main stars 4
Stars with planets 6
Stars brighter than 3.00m 0
Stars within 10.00 pc (32.62 ly) 2
Brightest star α Scl (4.30m)
Nearest star Gliese 1
(14.22 ly, 4.36 pc)
Messier objects 0
Piscis Austrinus
Visible at latitudes between +50° and −90°.
Best visible at 21:00 (9 p.m.) during the month of November.

Sculptor is a small and faint constellation in the southern sky. It represents a sculptor. It was introduced by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century. He originally named it Apparatus Sculptoris (the sculptor's studio), but the name was later shortened.


  • Characteristics 1
  • Notable features 2
  • Namesakes 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Sculptor is a small constellation bordered by Aquarius and Cetus to the north, Fornax to the east, Phoenix to the south, Grus to the southwest, and Piscis Austrinus to the west. The bright star Fomalhaut is nearby.[1] The three-letter abbreviation for the constellation, as adopted by the International Astronomical Union in 1922, is 'Scl'.[2] The official constellation boundaries, as set by Eugène Delporte in 1930, are defined by a polygon of 6 segments. In the equatorial coordinate system, the right ascension coordinates of these borders lie between 23h 06.4m and 01h 45.5m, while the declination coordinates are between −24.80° and −39.37°.[3]

Notable features

Curious spiral around red giant star R Sculptoris.[4]

No stars brighter than 3rd magnitude are located in Sculptor. This is explained by the fact that Sculptor contains the south galactic pole where stellar density is very low.

The brightest star is Alpha Sculptoris, an SX Arietis-type variable star with a spectral type B7IIIp and an apparent magnitude of 4.3.[5] R Sculptoris is a red giant that has been found to be surrounded by spirals of matter likely ejected around 1800 years ago.

The constellation also contains the Sculptor Dwarf, a dwarf galaxy which is a member of the Local Group, as well as the Sculptor Group, the group of galaxies closest to the Local Group. The Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253), a barred spiral galaxy and the largest member of the group, lies near the border between Sculptor and Cetus. Another prominent member of the group is the irregular galaxy NGC 55.

One unique galaxy in Sculptor is the Cartwheel Galaxy, at a distance of 500 million light-years. The result of a merger around 300 million years ago, the Cartwheel Galaxy has a core of older, yellow stars, and an outer ring of younger, blue stars, which has a diameter of 100,000 light-years. The smaller galaxy in the collision is now incorporated into the core, after moving from a distance of 250,000 light-years. The shock waves from the collision sparked extensive star formation in the outer ring.[6]


USS Sculptor (AK-103) was a United States Navy Crater class cargo ship named after the constellation.


  1. ^ Klepešta, Josef; Rükl, Antonín (1974) [1969]. Constellations. Hamlyn. pp. 234–35.  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ "Sculptor, constellation boundary". The Constellations (International Astronomical Union). Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  4. ^ "Surprising Spiral Structure Spotted by ALMA". ESO Press Release. Retrieved 11 October 2012. 
  5. ^ "Alpha Sculptoris– Rotationally Variable Star". SIMBAD Astronomical Database. Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Wilkins, Jamie; Dunn, Robert (2006). 300 Astronomical Objects: A Visual Reference to the Universe. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books.  
  • Ian Ridpath and Wil Tirion (2007). Stars and Planets Guide, Collins, London. ISBN 978-0-00-725120-9. Princeton University Press, Princeton. ISBN 978-0-691-13556-4.

External links

  • Star Tales – Sculptor
  • Sculptor Constellation at Constellation Guide