Gamma Draconis

Coordinates: Sky map 17h 56m 36.37s, +51° 29′ 20.02″
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Gamma Draconis
Location of γ Draconis (circled)
Observation data
Epoch J2000      Equinox J2000
Constellation Draco
Right ascension 17h 56m 36.36988s[1]
Declination +51° 29′ 20.0242″[1]
Apparent magnitude (V) 2.23[2]
Spectral type K5 III[3]
U−B color index +1.87[2]
B−V color index +1.53[2]
Radial velocity (Rv)–28.19 ± 0.36[4] km/s
Proper motion (μ) RA: –8.48[1] mas/yr
Dec.: –22.79[1] mas/yr
Parallax (π)21.14 ± 0.10 mas[1]
Distance154.3 ± 0.7 ly
(47.3 ± 0.2 pc)
Absolute magnitude (MV)−1.93 ± 0.07[5]
Mass1.72[6] M
Radius48.15 ± 1.09[5] R
Luminosity471 ± 30[5] L
Surface gravity (log g)1.55[5] cgs
Temperature3,930[5] K
Metallicity [Fe/H]–0.14[7] dex
Rotational velocity (v sin i)6.0[4] km/s
Other designations
Etamin,[citation needed] Etanin,[citation needed] Etanlin,[citation needed] Ettanin,[citation needed] Rastaban,[citation needed] Rasaben,[citation needed] Zenith star, 33 Draconis, BD +51°2282, FK5 676, HD 164058, HIP 87833, HR 6705, SAO 30653
Database references

Gamma Draconis (γ Draconis, abbreviated Gamma Dra, γ Dra), formally named Eltanin /ɛlˈtnɪn/,[8][9] is a star in the northern constellation of Draco. Contrary to its gamma-designation (historically third-ranked), it is the brightest object in Draco at magnitude 2.2,[1] outshining Beta Draconis by nearly half a magnitude and Alpha Draconis by over a magnitude.

Gamma Draconis is at a distance of 154.3 light-years (47.3 parsecs) from the Sun,[1] as determined by parallax measurements from the Hipparcos astrometry satellite.[10][11] In 1728, while unsuccessfully attempting to measure the parallax of this star, the English astronomer James Bradley discovered the aberration of light resulting from the relative movement of the Earth. Bradley's discovery apparently confirmed Copernicus' theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun.[12] It is drifting closer to the Solar System with a radial velocity of about –28 km/s.

In 1.5 million years, Gamma Draconis will pass within 28 light-years of Earth. For a period, if its current absolute magnitude does not change, it will be the brightest star in the night sky, nearly as bright as Sirius is at present.[12][13] It is by far the brightest star having a zenith above a point near London which led to its vaunting in these places as the "zenith star".[14] From other locations it has a nearby bright, well-known star in Lyra in the night sky; finding Vega, Gamma Draconis is the red star just north-northwest of it.


Gamma Draconis is an evolved giant star with a stellar classification of K5 III.[3] Since 1943, the spectrum of this star has served as one of the stable anchor points by which other stars are classified.[15] It has 72%[6] more mass than the Sun and it has expanded to around 48 times the Sun's girth.[5] It is radiating about 471[5] times as much luminosity as the Sun from its outer atmosphere at an effective temperature of 3,930 K.[5] This is cooler than the Sun, giving this star the orange-hued glow of a K-type star.[16]

Gamma Draconis has six companions listed in double star catalogues. All were discovered by the American astronomer Sherburne Wesley Burnham.[17] The closest may be physically associated and would be separated by about 1,000 AU. The luminosity of this object suggests it is a red dwarf star.[18] The others are all much more distant stars unrelated to Gamma Draconis.[19]


γ Draconis (Latinised to Gamma Draconis) is the star's Bayer designation.

It bore the traditional name Eltanin[12][20] derived from the Arabic التنين At-Tinnin 'The great serpent'. The name Rastaban was formerly used for Gamma Draconis, and the two terms share an Arabic root meaning "serpent" or "dragon". In 2016, the International Astronomical Union organized a Working Group on Star Names (WGSN)[21] to catalogue and standardize proper names for stars. The WGSN approved the name Eltanin for this star on 21 August 2016 and it is now so entered in the IAU Catalog of Star Names.[9]

Gamma Draconis, along with Beta Draconis, Mu Draconis, Nu Draconis, and Xi Draconis were Al ʽAwāïd "the Mother Camels", which was later known as the Quinque Dromedarii.[14]

In Chinese, 天棓 (Tiān Bàng), meaning Celestial Flail, refers to an asterism consisting of Gamma Draconis, Xi Draconis, Nu Draconis, Beta Draconis and Iota Herculis.[22] Consequently, the Chinese name for Gamma Draconis itself is 天棓四 (Tiān Bàng sì, English: the Fourth Star of Celestial Flail.)[23]


USS Etamin was a United States Navy Crater class cargo ship named after the star.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g van Leeuwen, F (November 2007). "Hipparcos, the New Reduction". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 474 (2): 653–664. arXiv:0708.1752. Bibcode:2007A&A...474..653V. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078357. S2CID 18759600. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  2. ^ a b c Oja, T. (August 1991). "UBV photometry of stars whose positions are accurately known. VI". Astronomy and Astrophysics Supplement Series. 89 (2): 415–419. Bibcode:1991A&AS...89..415O.
  3. ^ a b Morgan, W. W.; Keenan, P. C. (1973), "Spectral Classification", Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 11 (1): 29, Bibcode:1973ARA&A..11...29M, doi:10.1146/annurev.aa.11.090173.000333
  4. ^ a b Massarotti, Alessandro; et al. (January 2008), "Rotational and Radial Velocities for a Sample of 761 HIPPARCOS Giants and the Role of Binarity", The Astronomical Journal, 135 (1): 209–231, Bibcode:2008AJ....135..209M, doi:10.1088/0004-6256/135/1/209
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Piau, L.; et al. (February 2011), "Surface convection and red-giant radius measurements", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 526: A100, arXiv:1010.3649, Bibcode:2011A&A...526A.100P, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201014442, S2CID 118533297
  6. ^ a b Dehaes, S.; et al. (September 2011), "Structure of the outer layers of cool standard stars", Astronomy & Astrophysics, 533: A107, arXiv:0905.1240, Bibcode:2011A&A...533A.107D, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/200912442, S2CID 42053871
  7. ^ McWilliam, Andrew (December 1990). "High-resolution spectroscopic survey of 671 GK giants". Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series (PDF). 74: 1075–1128. Bibcode:1990ApJS...74.1075M. doi:10.1086/191527.
  8. ^ Kunitzsch, Paul; Smart, Tim (2006). A Dictionary of Modern star Names: A Short Guide to 254 Star Names and Their Derivations (2nd rev. ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Sky Pub. ISBN 978-1-931559-44-7.
  9. ^ a b "IAU Catalog of Star Names". Retrieved 28 July 2016.
  10. ^ Perryman, M. A. C.; Lindegren, L.; Kovalevsky, J.; et al. (July 1997), "The Hipparcos Catalogue", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 323: L49–L52, Bibcode:1997A&A...323L..49P
  11. ^ Perryman, Michael (2010), "The Making of History's Greatest Star Map", The Making of History's Greatest Star Map, Astronomers’ Universe, Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag,, doi:10.1007/978-3-642-11602-5, ISBN 978-3-642-11601-8
  12. ^ a b c Kaler, James B. "ELTANIN (Gamma Draconis)". Stars. University of Illinois. Retrieved 2010-11-21.
  13. ^ Tomkin, Jocelyn (April 1998). "Once and Future Celestial Kings". Sky and Telescope. 95 (4): 59–63. Bibcode:1998S&T....95d..59T. – based on computations from HIPPARCOS data. (The calculations exclude stars whose distance or proper motion is uncertain.) PDF[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ a b Allen, R. H. (1963), Star Names: Their Lore and Meaning (Reprint ed.), New York, NY: Dover Publications Inc, p. 207, ISBN 0-486-21079-0, retrieved 2010-12-12
  15. ^ Garrison, R. F. (December 1993), "Anchor Points for the MK System of Spectral Classification", Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 25: 1319, Bibcode:1993AAS...183.1710G, archived from the original on 2019-06-25, retrieved 2012-02-04
  16. ^ "The Colour of Stars", Australia Telescope, Outreach and Education, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, December 21, 2004, archived from the original on 2012-03-18, retrieved 2012-01-16
  17. ^ Mason, Brian D.; et al. (December 2001). "The 2001 US Naval Observatory Double Star CD-ROM. I. The Washington Double Star Catalog". The Astronomical Journal. 122 (6): 3466–3471. Bibcode:2001AJ....122.3466M. doi:10.1086/323920. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
  18. ^ Ayres, Thomas R.; Brown, Alexander; Harper, Graham M. (November 2006), "The Coronae of γ Draconis", The Astrophysical Journal, 651 (2): 1126–1129, Bibcode:2006ApJ...651.1126A, doi:10.1086/507763, S2CID 120205574
  19. ^ Brown, A. G. A.; et al. (Gaia collaboration) (August 2018). "Gaia Data Release 2: Summary of the contents and survey properties". Astronomy & Astrophysics. 616. A1. arXiv:1804.09365. Bibcode:2018A&A...616A...1G. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201833051.
  20. ^ "γ Dra (Eltanin)". Retrieved 2010-11-22.
  21. ^ IAU Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), International Astronomical Union, retrieved 22 May 2016.
  22. ^ (in Chinese) 中國星座神話, written by 陳久金. Published by 台灣書房出版有限公司, 2005, ISBN 978-986-7332-25-7.
  23. ^ (in Chinese) 香港太空館 - 研究資源 - 亮星中英對照表 Archived January 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Hong Kong Space Museum. Accessed on line November 23, 2010.