Is Sirius part of a constellation?

Canis Major is a famous constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere, and it contains Sirus, the brightest star in the night sky.

It is believed that Sirius, also known as Sirus A, is the brightest star in the night sky. The name means “glowing” in Greek, which is a fitting description. Only a few planets, the International Space Station and the full Moon have managed to outshine this star.

© NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI) and M. Barstow (University of Leicester)

Since Sirius is so bright, it was often used by the ancient civilizations as a guiding light. The heliacal rising of the star marked the flooding of the Nile in ancient Egypt, while to the Polynesians, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, Sirius marked winter, and it was an important reference for their navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

The discovery of a second star called Sirius B in 1862 surprised astronomers. It is important to note that people are able to see Sirius A with the naked eye. Sirius B is 10 000 times duller than Sirius A, and it is therefore very difficult to see from Earth. People will thus need a telescope to view Sirius B.

People living in the Northern Hemisphere will be able to spot Sirius A quite easily in the winter night sky, as it has a high luminosity, and it is relatively close to Earth. It is recommended that people use Orion’s Belt to find Sirius. The belt’s three stars point downward towards Sirius on the left.

It is also believed that Sirius A is located 8.6 light-years, approximately 81.46 trillion kilometres, away from Earth. According to The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Sirius has a mass that is two times that of our Sun. If the star was placed next to the Sun, it would outshine it more than 20 times.

Sirius is known informally as the Dog Star, reflecting its importance in its constellation, Canis Major. The Canis Major, also known as the Greater Dog, is a constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere. The infamous Milky Way passes through this constellation and various open clusters lie within its borders.