Apus Constellation

Apus constellation is located in the southern hemisphere. It represents the bird of paradise.

The name of the constellation is derived from the Greek word apous, which means “footless.” (Birds of paradise were at one point in history believed to lack feet.) There are no myths associated with the constellation.

Apus was created by the Dutch astronomer and cartographer Petrus Plancius from the observations of Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick Houtman, and first catalogued by Plancius in the late 16th century.

Apus contains two notable deep sky objects: the globular clusters NGC 6101 and IC 4499.


Apus is the 67th constellation in size, occupying an area of 206 square degrees. It lies in the third quadrant of the southern hemisphere (SQ3) and can be seen at latitudes between +5° and -90°. The neighboring constellations are Ara, Chamaeleon, Circinus, Musca, Octans, Pavo, and Triangulum Australe.

Apus constellation has no stars with known planets or any Messier objects. The brightest star is Alpha Apodis. There are no meteor showers associated with the constellation.

Apus belongs to the Johann Bayer family of constellations, along with Chamaeleon, Dorado, Grus, Hydrus, Indus, Musca, Pavo, Phoenix, Tucana, and Volans.

Apus constellation,star map,star chart

Apus Constellation Map, by IAU and Sky&Telescope magazine


Apus was originally named Paradysvogel Apis Indica by Petrus Plancius, who created and introduced the constellation. Paradysvogel means “the bird of paradise” in Dutch, and Apis Indica is Latin for “indian bee.” Apis, the word for “bee,” was presumably used in error and the constellation should have been named Avis, which means “bird.”

The constellation was also called Apis Indica in Bayer’s Uranometria, while other astronomers, like Johannes Kepler, referred to it as Avis Indica, as Kepler did in his Rudolphine Tables in 1627. As a result of the confusion, Avis Indica was renamed to Apus, and Apis, the constellation representing the bee, became Musca, the fly. French astronomer Lacaille called the constellation Apus in his chart of the southern skies published in 1763, but both Apis and Avis continued to be used well into the 19th century.


α Apodis (Alpha Apodis)

With an apparent visual magnitude of 3.825, Alpha Apodis is the brightest star in Apus. Approximately 410 light years distant, it is classified as a K-type giant.

γ Apodis (Gamma Apodis)

Gamma Apodis is the second brightest star in the constellation, with an apparent visual magnitude of 3.872. It is a yellow G-type giant star, approximately 160 light years distant.

δ Apodis (Delta Apodis)

Delta Apodis is a binary star, approximately 800 light years distant. The brighter component, Delta-1 Apodis, is an irregular variable star and has an apparent magnitude that varies between 4.66 and 4.87. Delta-1 Apodis is an M-type red giant star.

Delta-2 Apodis is an orange K-type giant star with an apparent magnitude of 5.27. It is 102.9 arcseconds away from the primary star.

κ Apodis (Kappa Apodis)

Kappa Apodis is a Bayer designation denoting two star systems, Kappa-1 Apodis (HR 5730) and Kappa-2 Apodis (HR 5782).

Kappa-1 Apodis is a blue-white B-type subgiant approximately 1020 light years distant. It is a Gamma Cassiopeiae type variable, a fast rotating shell star with variations in luminosity caused by the outflow of matter, and has a mean apparent magnitude of 5.40. Its luminosity varies between 5.43 and 5.61. The star has a companion, a magnitude 12 orange K-type subgiant, lying 27 arcseconds away.

Kappa-2 Apodis is a binary star composed of a blue-white B-type giant and an orange K-type main sequence dwarf 15 arcseconds away, with a 13th magnitude optical companion 15 arcseconds away. The primary star has an apparent magnitude of 5.64 and the orange dwarf, 12.5.

Other notable stars:

β Apodis (Beta Apodis) is an orange K-type giant star, located about 158 light years from Earth. It has an apparent magnitude of 4.23 and is the third brightest star in Apus.

ζ Apodis (Zeta Apodis) is an orange K-type giant, about 312 light years distant. It has an apparent magnitude of 4.76.

η Apodis (Eta Apodis) is classified as an Am star or metallic-line star, an A-type star that is chemically peculiar and whose spectrum has strong absorption lines of some metals and deficiencies of others. Eta Apodis is emitting excess infrared radiation, possibly as a result of a debris disk orbiting the star at a distance of 31 AU.

ε Apodis (Epsilon Apodis) is a blue-white B-type main sequence star, approximately 551 light years away. It is another Gamma Cassiopeiae type variable, with a mean apparent magnitude of 5.06. Its brightness varies by 0.05 magnitudes.

NGC 6101

NGC 6101, photo: Hubble Space Telescope, NASA


NGC 6101

NGC 6101 is a small globular cluster in Apus that can be observed through a 4.5-inch telescope. It lies seven degrees north of Gamma Apodis and has an apparent visual magnitude of 9.2.

IC 4499

IC 4499 is another small, faint globular cluster. It is the southernmost globular cluster in the sky, which is to say that it is the globular cluster closest to the south celestial pole. It can be seen in an eight inch telescope as a small patch.

Other notable deep sky objects

IC 4633 and NGC 6392 are the brightest two galaxies that can be seen in the constellation.