Auriga is named for a mythological Roman charioteer. This constellation was one of the 48 constellations cataloged by the 2nd century astronomer Ptolemy that remain among the 88 modern constellations. This 21st-largest constellation is located above (north and west of) Orion’s head, and it can best be located by identifying its brightest star, Capella (Alpha Arigulae). The brighter stars form a rather large and distinct pentagonal asterism.
Auriga has many interesting deep sky objects, including three open star clusters (Messier M36, M37, and M38) that are very striking, and easily located with a modest telescope. Also very prominent is the Flaming Star Nebula.
© James R. Johnson, 2014.