Pavo (Pav) is a constellation in the southern sky with the Latin name for peacock. Pavo was one of the twelve constellations established by Dutch astronomer Petrus Plancius from the observations of the southern sky by Dutch explorers Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman, who had sailed on the first Dutch trading expedition, known as the Eerste Schipvaart, to the East Indies. It first appeared on a 35-cm (14 in) diameter celestial globe published in 1598 in Amsterdam by Plancius with Jodocus Hondius.

The first depiction of this constellation in a celestial atlas was in German cartographer Johann Bayer's Uranometria of 1603. De Houtman included it in his southern star catalogue the same year under the Dutch name De Pauww, "The Peacock".

The constellations Pavo, Grus, Phoenix and Tucana are collectively known as the "Southern Birds".

The constellation's brightest member, Alpha Pavonis, is also known as Peacock and appears as a 1.91-magnitude blue-white star, but is actually a spectroscopic binary. Delta Pavonis is a nearby Sun-like star some 19.9 light years distant. Six of the star systems in Pavo have been found to host planets, including HD 181433 with a super-earth, and HD 172555 with evidence of a major interplanetary collision in the past few thousand years. The constellation contains NGC 6752, the third-brightest globular cluster in the sky, and the spiral galaxy NGC 6744, which closely resembles our Milky Way but is twice as large. Pavo is the radiant of two annual meteor showers: the Delta Pavonids and August Pavonids.

According to Mark Chartrand, former executive director of the National Space Institute, Plancius may not have been the first to designate this group of stars as a peacock: "In Greek myth the stars that are now the Peacock were Argos [or Argus], builder of the ship Argo. He was changed by the goddess Juno into a peacock and placed in the sky along with his ship." Indeed, the peacock "symboliz[ed] the starry firmament" for the Greeks, and the goddess Hera was believed to drive through the heavens in a chariot drawn by peacocks.

The peacock and the "Argus" nomenclature are also prominent in a different myth, in which Io, a beautiful princess of Argos, was lusted after by Zeus (Jupiter). Zeus changed Io into a heifer to deceive his wife (and sister) Hera and couple with her. Hera saw through Zeus's scheme and asked for the heifer as a gift. Zeus, unable to refuse such a reasonable request, reluctantly gave the heifer to Hera, who promptly banished Io and arranged for Argus Panoptes, a creature with one hundred eyes, to guard the now-pregnant Io from Zeus. Meanwhile, Zeus entreated Hermes to save Io; Hermes used music to lull Argus Panoptes to sleep, then slew him. Hera adorned the tail of a peacock—her favorite bird—with Argus's eyes in his honor.

Bordering constellations
Octans | Apus | Ara | Telescopium | Indus

Lists of stars by constellation
WallHapp Catalogue (WH)

WallHapp Catalogue (WH)