Pronunciation:

 (LOO-pus)

Abbreviation:

 Lup

  Genitive:

 Lupi

Right Ascension:

 15 hours

  Declination:

 -45 degrees

Area in Square Degrees:

 334

Crosses Meridian:

 9 PM, June 20

Visible Between Latitudes:

 35 and -90 degrees

The constellation Lupus, the wolf, is located in the southern hemisphere of the sky. It is best seen in the northern hemisphere in June and is completely visible at latitudes between 35 degrees and -90 degrees. It is a mid-sized constellation filling 334 square degrees of the sky. It ranks 46th in size among the 88 constellations of the night sky. It is bordered by the constellations Hydra, Scorpius, Norma, Circinus, Libra, and Centaurus. It is sometimes confused with the constellation Lepus, the rabbit.

Lupus is one of the 48 constellations first identified by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in the second century. Its name means “the wolf” in Latin. Even though it is one of the older constellations, it is not associated with any mythology. The stars that make up this constellation were originally a part of the constellation Centaurus. They represented an animal that had been killed by the centaur. It was separated from Centaurus by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus in the third century BC. No particular animal was associated with it. The ancient Greeks knew it as Therium, a wild animal. The Romans called it Bestia, the beast. A later Latin translation of Ptolemy’s work finally identified it as a wolf.

The constellation Lupus showing common points of interest
The constellation Lupus showing common points
of interest. © Sea and Sky
Lupus constellation map
Lupus constellation map.
© Torsten Bronger CC BY-SA 3.0
Object
Designation
Name / Meaning
Object Type
V Mag
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Men
Kekouan
Gamma Lupi
Delta Lupi
Epsilon Lupi
Zeta Lupi
Eta Lupi
Iota Lupi
Phi-1 Lupi
Pi Lupi
Chi Lupi
"The South Gate"
"Imperial Guards"
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Blue-White Giant Star
Blue-White Giant Star
Blue-White Subgiant Star
Blue-White Subgiant Star
Multiple Star System
Yellow Giant Star
Blue-White Subgiant Star
Blue-White Subgiant Star
Red Giant Star
Binary Star System
Binary Star System
2.30
2.68
2.77
3.22
3.41
3.41
3.41
3.54
3.57
3.89
3.96

Lupus contains three stars brighter than magnitude 3. All three of these are blue-white giant stars. The brightest of these is Men with a visual magnitude of 2.30. It is ten times more massive than the Sun and is 25,00 times brighter. It is located about 460 light years from Earth. Kekouan is the second brightest star with a magnitude of 2.68. It lies approximately 383 light years away. Gamma Lupi is the third brightest star with a magnitude of 2.77. It lies some 420 light years from our solar system.

Lupus contains no Messier objects but it does contain a few notable deep-sky objects. NGC 5986 is a globular star cluster that contains thousands of individual stars. It is located approximately 33,900 light years from Earth. The Retina nebula is a planetary nebula with a rainbow of colors. It is a donut-shaped nebula seen from the side. NGC 5882 is another planetary nebula with delicate wisps of pink and blue gas. These objects are extremely dim and can only be seen in large telescopes.