Carina (Car, keel) is a constellation in the southern sky. Its name is Latin for the keel of a ship, and it was formerly part of the larger constellation of Argo Navis (the ship Argo) until that constellation was divided into three pieces, the other two being Puppis (the poop deck), and Vela (the sails of the ship).

Carina contains Canopus (α Car, α Carinae, Alpha Carinae), a white-hued supergiant that is the second brightest star in the night sky at magnitude −0.72, 313 light-years from Earth. Alpha Carinae, as Canopus is formally designated, is a variable star that varies by approximately 0.1 magnitudes. Its traditional name comes from the mythological Canopus, who was a navigator for Menelaus, king of Sparta.

Two bright Mira variable stars are in Carina: R Carinae (HD 91942) and S Carinae (HD 90853); both stars are red giants. R Carinae has a minimum magnitude of 10.0 and a maximum magnitude of 4.0. Its period is 309 days and it is 416 light-years from Earth. S Carinae is similar, with a minimum magnitude of 10.0 and a maximum magnitude of 5.0. However, S Carinae has a shorter period – 150 days, though it is much more distant at 1300 light-years from Earth.

Carina was once a part of Argo Navis, the great ship of Jason and the Argonauts who searched for the Golden Fleece (In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair winged ram, which was held in Colchis). The constellation of Argo was introduced in ancient Greece. However, Nicolas Louis de Lacaille divided Argo into three component constellations in 1763, including Carina, the Keel.

Despite the division, Lacaille kept Argo's Bayer designations. Therefore Carina has the α, β and ε, Vela has γ and δ, Puppis has ζ, and so on.

Bordering constellations
Vela | Puppis | Pictor | Volans | Chamaeleon | Musca | Centaurus

Lists of stars by constellation
WallHapp Catalogue (WH)

WallHapp Catalogue (WH)