Doradois one of several southern constellations representing exotic creatures, and was introduced in the late 16th century by the Dutch navigators Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman. It represents not the goldfish found in ornamental ponds but the dolphinfish of tropical seas, a member of the family Coryphaenidae. It has also been depicted as a swordfish. For astronomers, Dorado is significant because it contains the bulk of the Large Magellanic Cloud, our nearest neighboring galaxy. Its brightest star is Alpha Doradus, magnitude 3.3.
Depiction: The Goldfish
Highest in the Sky: December to January
Size Ranking: 72nd
Coverage Area: 179 Sq. Degrees
Right Acension: 5 hours
Visibility: 20°N to 90°S
Beta Doradus: Cepheid variable star
Large Magellanic Cloud: Galaxy
NGC 1549: Lenticular galaxy
NGC 1553: Lenticular galaxy
NGC 1566: Spanish Dancer Galaxy
NGC 2070: Tarantula Nebula
Best Viewed Objects/Stars
A bright Cepheid variable, ranging between magnitudes 3.5 and 4.1 every 9.8 days. It is a yellow-white supergiant and lies about 1,000 light-years away.
NGC 2070 (The Tarantula Nebula)
A bright nebula in the large Magellanic Cloud, visible to the naked eye. It appears about the same size as the full moon, but its true diameter is about 800 light-years, making it far larger than the Orion Nebula. The nebula is a star-forming region, and binoculars or a small telescope reveal a star cluster, 30 Doradus, at its center.
The brightest supernova visible from Earth since 1604. In 1987 it flared up in the Large Magellanic Cloud, near the Tarantula Nebula, reaching magnitude 2.8 at its brightest. It remained visible to the naked eye for 10 months.
The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC)
A small galaxy, a satellite of our own, lying 170,000 light years away. It resembles a detached part of the Milky Way, somewhat elongated in shape. It is about one-tenth of the mass of our Galaxy and a true diameter of 20,000 light-years. It is usually classified as an irregular galaxy, but there are traces of a barred spiral structure. Scanning across it with binoculars or a small telescope brings numerous star clusters and glowing nebula into view. The largest and brightest nebula is NGC 2070, also known as the Tarantula Nebula.