With 469 square degrees, the Phoenix extends relatively faintly in the southern hemisphere. Only its main star Ankaa is brighter than the third magnitude. The constellation is named after the mystical bird that burns itself and resurrects from its own ashes. In Egyptian mythology, it was the bird that sat on the primeval mound during the creation of the world and was identified as the God of the Sun.
How to spot Phoenix
In winter, the constellation Phoenix can be seen between the constellationsFornax,Grus,Tucana,SculptorandEridanus. The arrangement of the stars can be interpreted as the shape of a flying bird.
At the end of the 16th century, a Dutch fleet traveled to the legendary Spice Islands to create new trade relationships. Under Captain Keyser, the positions of 135 stars were measured during this journey, which were later included by Peter Plancius in his sky maps. From these he recognized twelve new constellations, including "Den voghel Fenicx". A few years later, the constellation was recorded as "Phoenix" in the new Sky Atlas.