The name Ara in Latin means “altar”. Ara is a beautiful little constellation that adorns the sky on the south side of the planet. It is best seen in the middle of summer. It lies in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ3) on an area of 237 square degrees. You can find it south of Scorpius. Of the 88 constellations, Ara is the 63rd largest. We see that Ara is a small constellation. Ara does not contain Messier objects, but (among others) contains two stars brighter than 3 magnitudes. The brightest star is Beta Arae with a 2.85 apparent magnitude. It is a bright supergiant that is approximately 600 light-years from Earth. Second in brightness is the Alpha Area with an apparent magnitude of 2.90 mag. This is a blue and hot dwarf star. But don’t be fooled by the word “dwarf”. Alpha Arae is 8 times larger than our Sun. It is a variable type B star. The brightness of this star varies from 2.75 to 2.90 apparent magnitude. The Alpha Area is approximately 240 light-years away.
In this region you can see very nice double stars that are brighter than 8 magnitude. Here are a few. DUN 206 (5.7, 6.9) – COO 201 (7.3, 7.4) – HJ 4901 (7.8, 7.9). In addition to this, Ara has several stars with confirmed exoplanets. Gliese 676 is a binary system with 4 planets, and Mu Arae is a star with also 4 planets. However, several other stars in the Ara constellation have registered exoplanets. Ara is a very interesting area to explore.
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