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|Meaning in English||the Goat or Sea-Goat|
|Right ascension||21 h|
|Visible to latitude||Between 60° and -90°|
414 sq. deg.
|Number of stars with|
apparent magnitude < 3
- Apparent magnitude
|Deneb Algedi (δ Cap)|
Capricornus is one of the constellations of the zodiac. It is commonly called Capricorn, especially in astrology. It represents a horned goat, although it is commonly called the sea-goat. Capricornus is one of the 88 modern constellations, and was also one of the 48 constellations listed by Ptolemy. Under its modern boundaries it is bordered by Aquila, Sagittarius, Microscopium, Piscis Austrinus and Aquarius.
This constellation is the dimmest in the zodiac besides Cancer. Its brighter stars are found on a triangle whose vertices are Giedi (α), Deneb Algedi (δ), and ω Capricorni.
This constellation is one of the oldest to have been identified, possibly the oldest, despite its dimness. Depictions of a goat or goat-fish have been found on Babylonian tablets dating back three thousand years. The constellation may owe its antiquity to the fact that at that time, the northern hemisphere's Winter Solstice occurred while the sun was in Capricorn. The concern for the sun's rebirth might have rendered astronomical and astrological observation of this region of space very important.
For the same reason, the sun's most southerly position, which is attained at the northern hemisphere's winter solstice, is called the Tropic of Capricorn, a term which also applies to the line on earth where the sun is directly overhead at noon on that solstice.
Due to the precession of the equinoxes, the December solstice no longer takes place while the sun is in Capricorn, but the astrological period called Capricorn begins at approximately the same time as the solstice.
This constellation is sometimes identified as Amalthea, the goat that suckled the infant Zeus after his mother Rhea saved him from being devoured by his father Cronos in Greek mythology. The goat's broken horn was transformed into the cornucopia or horn of plenty. Some ancient sources claim that this derives from the sun "taking nourishment" while in the constellation, in preparation for its climb back northward.
However, the constellation is often depicted as a sea-goat, a goat with a fish's tail. One myth that deals with this says that when the goat-god Pan was attacked by the monster Typhon, he dove into the Nile; the parts above the water remained a goat, but those under the water transformed into a fish.
The astrological sign Capricorn (December 22-January 19) is associated with the constellation.
In some cosmologies, Capricorn is associated with the classical element Earth, and thus called an Earth Sign (with Taurus and Virgo). Its polar opposite is Cancer.
Constellations of the zodiac : Aries -- Taurus -- Gemini -- Cancer -- Leo -- Virgo -- Libra -- Scorpius -- (Ophiuchus) -- Sagittarius -- Capricornus -- Aquarius -- Pisces