|Winter: Orion Canis Major Canis Minor Monoceros Lepus Eridanus Taurus Auriga Camelopardalis Lynx Gemini Cancer|
|Spring: Hydra Sextans Crater Corvus Leo Leo Minor Ursa Major Ursa Minor Canes Venatici Coma Berenices Virgo Bootes|
|Summer: Draco Corona Borealis Hercules Ophiuchus Serpens Libra Scorpius Sagittarius Scutum Aquila Sagitta Vulpecula Lyra Cygnus|
|Autumn: Andromeda Perseus Pegasus Cassiopeia Cephus Cetus Lacerta Delphinus Equuleus Capricornus Aquarius Pisces Aries|
|Southern Skies: Centaurus Crux Lupus Corona Australis Piscis Australis Sculptor Tucana Fornax Dorado Columba Puppis Carina Vela|
Since ancient times, a large portion of the southern sky was one large constellation. It was called Argo Navis, and represented the stern section of the Argos, the legendary ship that transported Jason and the Argonauts on their quest to find the Golden Fleece. The Hevelius depiction above is reversed, as if looking down from space at the outside of a globe or spherical shell of stars that surrounded Earth, as the ancients believed.
In 1751, during his famous expedition to South Africa to chart the southern skies, French astronomer Nicolas Lacaille decided the ancient constellation was just too large and unwieldy. There were too many stars, too many other, mysterious objects. The area needed to be divided into smaller, more manageable constellations. But the Argo Navis was such a majestic, powerful image in the sky! It couldn't simply be scrapped, and replaced by new constellations. So Lacaille compromised, and left the ancient image in the sky, with all its grand mythological romance, and adventure, and tradition, and simply divided the figure into three parts: Puppis, the poop deck, Vela, the sail, and Carina, the keel.
I have taken the liberty of tracing the new constellations over the magnificent artwork of Johann Bayer's 1603 Uranometria above, to help show their ancient origins. Carina is Latin for keel, the part of a ship below the water line. Although much smaller than the original constellation, Carina is still quite large. Its primary significance is that it contains the brilliant Canopus, with a magnitude of -0.72, the second brightest star in the sky. Only the dog star, Sirius, blazing high above it in Canis Major at a magnitude of -1.46 outshines it. Canopus cannot be seen above 35 degrees north latitude.
IC 2602 is an open star cluster centered on the star Theta Carinae, and has been dubbed The Southern Pleiades, due to its similarity to the famous northern Pleiades. The cluster is 479 light years away and shines with a combined magnitude of 1.9.
NGC 2516 is another open star cluster that looks pretty good through a small telescope. The cluster is 1,300 light years away and has an overall magnitude of 3.8.
Another good target for a small telescope is NGC 2808, a big, bright globular cluster containing over a million stars. It is 30,000 light years away, and has a magnitude of 7.8.
NGC 3372, The Great Carina Nebula, is a large, bright nebula four times larger than the Great Orion Nebula.