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Pyxis is a small and faint constellation in the southern sky. The name comes from Pyxis Nautica, Latin for a mariner's compass (as opposed to a draftsman's compass, represented by the constellation Circinus). Introduced by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille in the 18th century, Pyxis is counted among the 88 modern constellations. In the 19th century, astronomer John Herschel suggested renaming Pyxis to Malus, the mast, since it appears near the old constellation of the ship Argo Navis, but the suggestion was not followed. Pyxis is completely visible from latitudes south of 53 degrees north, with its best evening-sky visibility in February and March. The plane of the Milky Way passes through it. Its three brightest stars—Alpha, Beta and Gamma Pyxidis—are in a rough line; the brightest of these is Alpha (magnitude 3.68), a blue-white star around 22,000 times as luminous as the Sun. Near Alpha is T Pyxidis, a recurrent nova that has flared up to magnitude 7 every few decades. Three star systems have planets, all discovered by Doppler spectroscopy. (Full article...)
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