FORNAX, pronounced FOR-naks,
HOROLOGIUM, pronounced HOR-uh-LOW-jee-um,
CAELUM, pronounced SEE-lum,
RETICULUM, pronounced reh-TICK-yah-lum.

Chart showing the 4 constellations.

These are modern constellations, originating in 1752, by the Frenchman Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, the first person to map the southern skies comprehensively, and none is easily identified, or obvious.

Fornax, the Furnace, was originally Fornax Chemica, the chemical furnace. It contains the Fornax cluster of galaxies at a distance of around 55 million light years. In addition it also contains the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy, a cloud of very faint, scattered stars about 420,000 light years away, which is a satellite of the Milky Way Galaxy. This was discovered photographically and is notoriously difficult to see visually.

Horologium represents the Clock. One of the two globular clusters in Horologium, AM1, is the most distant in the Milky Way galaxy at 390,000 light years away. At 15th magnitude, it is too faint for normal amateur telescopes.

Caelum, the Chisel, represents the engraving tool or burin used by craftsmen in metal or ivory. It is one of the smallest and least obvious constellations in the sky, containing no stars brighter than magnitude 4.5.

Reticulum, the net was originally Reticulum Rhomboidalis, the system of lines in a eyepiece reticle. Reticulum contains one globular cluster, which is probably an outlier of the Large Magellanic Cloud, and is also too faint for small telescopes.

To find these constellations, look towards the zenith immediately above you in the late evening sky. Use Achernar, Canopus and the Magellanic Clouds to help locate the constellations from the map. Most of the brighter stars are around magnitude 4, so a dark sky is needed.

Chart showing the constellations with Fornax to the north at about 10.30 pm NZDT mid December.

Fornax, Horologium, Caelum, and Reticulum. 9.1 kb

Constellation Sculptor Constellation Phoenix Constellation Grus Constellation Indus Constellation Tucana Constellation Hydrus Constellation Dorado Constellation Pictor Canopus in Carina Constellation Eridanus Constellation Eridanus Constellation Cetus

Details of some of the objects shown in the chart.

α Fornacis is a yellow star of magnitude 4.1 with a close magnitude 6.6 companion.

β For is a magnitude 4.5 yellow giant star 200 light years away.

NGC 1097 is a large diffuse oval-shaped galaxy, with a conspicuous nucleus.

NGC 1316 is a galaxy that appears as an elliptical haze with a bright nucleus in a field with few scattered stars. NGC 1317 appears as a less bright galaxy slightly north.

NGC 1365 is the finest barred spiral galaxy for southern observers. It's distance is estimated at about 35 million light years, placing it in the foreground of the Fornax Cluster.

NGC 1379 is a fairly bright member of the Fornax Cluster in a star sprinkled field that contains several galaxies (mostly elliptical in shape).

α Horologii is a yellow star of magnitude 3.9

β Hor is a magnitude 5.0 white star 280 light years away.

α Caeli is a magnitude 4.5 white star 65 light years away.

β Cae is a magnitude 5.1 white star 55 light years away.

γ Cae is a magnitude 4.6 orange star 170 light years away, with a magnitude 8.5 companion, visible in moderately small telescopes.

δ Cae is a magnitude 5.1 blue-white star 750 light years away.

α Reticuli is a yellow giant star of magnitude 3.4 lying 390 light years away.

β Ret is a magnitude 3.9 orange star 55 light years away

ζ Ret is a wide unaided eye or binocular double star 40 light years away, with components of magnitudes 5.2 and 5.5. These yellow stars are similar to the Sun.


These four constellations, either side of Eridanus, are well south of the equator, so remain visible in the evening sky for a large part of the year. Some part of Caelum pass overhead througout New Zealand. From New Zealand, Fornax will remain visible in evening skies until the end of March, Caelum and Horologium at least up until the end of April. Reticulum and the more southerly parts of Horologium are in fact circumpolar so are visible throughout the year.

Fornax is due north and highest at about 10.30 pm (NZDT) in mid December, while Caelum, the most easterly of the four, is highest at 10.30 pm mid January.