Crater is a faint constellation best seen in April.
Click on image for full size
Windows to the Universe original image


The constellation Crater is known as the Cup. Crater is a small constellation located between Hydra and Leo and next to Corvus. Crater is best seen sometime between March and June. You'll have to scan the sky closely because it is made mostly of dim stars.

The stories about Crater originate in Greek myth. It is said that Corvus, the crow, was sent by Apollo to get some spring water. He took the cup to fill, and came across a fig that wasn't quite ripe. He waited for it to turn ripe, which made him late on his return. He brought a serpent with him and told Apollo that it attacked him and that was why he was late.

Of course, Apollo knew everything, so he was very angry that Corvus lied. He sent the crow, the cup and the serpent all into the sky. Another story says the cup is actually the sacred goblet used by the Olympian Gods. At one time, the constellation was seen as the young boy, Ganymede, who used to serve the gods nectar in the goblet. Eventually it was changed to represent the cup.

There aren't any clusters or nebulae in the constellation. There are several faint galaxies, but none are of interest to amateur astronomers. Instead, you should concentrate on finding all the faint stars that make up the constellation!

You might also be interested in:

Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms

What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences?...more


Hydra is the longest constellation in the sky (>90 degrees) and is also the largest in terms of area. It is so long that it takes more than six hours to rise completely. Along its northern side are the...more


Leo, the Lion, is a very majestic feline. Leo's head and mane are formed by an asterism known as the Sickle which looks like a backward question mark. One of the brightest spring stars, Regulus (Latin...more


Aquarius is a member of the Zodiac, a group of constellations that the Sun travels through each year. It is best viewed in autumn in the southern sky, although much of the northern hemisphere can see...more


Andromeda is a "V" shaped constellation best viewed in Autumn if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. It was one of the earliest constellations to be recognized. Andromeda lies near the celestial north...more


Cancer, the Crab, is a member of the Zodiac, a group of constellations that the Sun travels through each year. Cancer spends half of the year in the sky. It first rises in December and is visible through...more

Canis Major

Canis Major is known as the Great Dog. In Greek myth, it is said that this constellation, along with Canis Minor, are Orion's hunting dogs. Canis Major was one of the most important constellations in...more


The constellation Capricornus represents the figure of either a goat or a sea-goat in the sky. It is believed to be the oldest constellation known. Capricornus is also a member of the Zodiac, a special...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA