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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.
Artistic rendition of the sculptor's studio, along with parts of the neighbouring constellations of Cetus and Machina Electrica, in Urania's Mirror (1825)
The region to the south of Cetus and Aquarius had been named by Aratus in 270 BC as The Waters - an area of scattered faint stars with two brighter stars standing out. Professor of astronomy Bradley Schaefer has proposed that these stars were most likely Alpha and Delta Sculptoris.
The French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille first described the constellation in French as l'Atelier du Sculpteur (the sculptor's studio) in 1751-52, depicting a three-legged table with a carved head on it, and an artist's mallet and two chisels on a block of marble alongside it. De Lacaille had observed and catalogued almost 10,000 southern stars during a two-year stay at the Cape of Good Hope, devising fourteen new constellations in uncharted regions of the Southern Celestial Hemisphere not visible from Europe. He named all but one in honour of instruments that symbolised the Age of Enlightenment.[a]
Eta Sculptoris is a red giant of spectral type M4III that varies between magnitudes 4.8 and 4.9, pulsating with multiple periods of 22.7, 23.5, 24.6, 47.3, 128.7 and 158.7 days. Estimated to be around 1,082 times as luminous as the Sun, it is 460 ± 20 light-years distant from Earth.
R Sculptoris is a red giant that has been found to be surrounded by spirals of matter likely ejected around 1800 years ago. It is 1,440 ± 90 light-years distant from Earth.
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.
^Delporte had proposed standardising the constellation boundaries to the International Astronomical Union, who had agreed and gave him the lead role
^While parts of the constellation technically rise above the horizon to observers between 50°N and 65°N, stars within a few degrees of the horizon are to all intents and purposes unobservable.
^Objects of magnitude 6.5 are among the faintest visible to the unaided eye in suburban-rural transition night skies.
^Schaefer, Bradley E. (2002). "The latitude and epoch for the formation of the southern Greek constellations". Journal for the History of Astronomy. 33, part 4 (113): 313-50. Bibcode:2002JHA....33..313S. ISSN0021-8286.
^Cooper, Tim (2003). "Presidential address: Amateur Observations - Successes and Opportunities". Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa. 62: 234-240. Bibcode:2003MNSSA..62..234C.
^Wilkins, Jamie; Dunn, Robert (2006). 300 Astronomical Objects: A Visual Reference to the Universe. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books. ISBN978-1-55407-175-3.
Ridpath, Ian (2001), Stars and Planets Guide, Princeton University Press, ISBN0-691-08913-2
Wagman, Morton (2003). Lost Stars: Lost, Missing and Troublesome Stars from the Catalogues of Johannes Bayer, Nicholas Louis de Lacaille, John Flamsteed, and Sundry Others. Blacksburg, VA: The McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company. ISBN978-0-939923-78-6.