How to spot the Capricornus constellation, the sea goat figure in the night sky

The constellation assumes a triangular form in the sky

There is so much to look for in the dazzling night sky that it can sometimes be hard to tell what you're seeing.

If you are trying to spot a certain constellation, such as Capricornus, which is thought to represent a sea goat, you may need a little help from tools and maps to find your way. 

The Capricornus constellation is a dim one that can be a little difficult to find, so you will probably want to use binoculars or a telescope to help you see it more clearly. 


The constellation looks a bit like a squished triangle. 

Although there are different stories behind the origins of the constellation, what you see is really up to your own interpretation. 

The Capricornus constellation

The constellation is dim, making it difficult to spot. (Alan Dyer/VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

If you want to spot the sea goat constellation, here are key tips that will help you, plus, more information about the constellation. 

  1. What is the myth of the Capricornus constellation?
  2. Is Capricornus the same as Capricorn?
  3. When is the Capricornus constellation visible?
  4. How can I spot the Capricornus constellation?

1. What is the myth of the Capricornus constellation? 

Capricornus is Latin for "horned goat," and the folklore behind the constellation is an intriguing story. 

The folklore says that sea nymphs and goddesses all got together, including the god Pan. Then, a monster called a Typhoon came along, prompting all the gods to change themselves into animals as a disguise and to make their escape. 

Pan followed suit and jumped into a river before his full transformation into a goat was complete. 


This left him with the upper half of a goat, and a lower half of a fish. 

Sea goat illustration

The Capricornus constellation is represented by a sea-goat, a creature with the top half of a goat combined with the bottom half of a fish. (Historica Graphica Collection/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

2. Is Capricornus the same as Capricorn?

The terms are interchangable, but typically Capricorn is used when talking about the zodiac sign, while Capricornus is used when discussing the actual constellation. 

3. When is the Capricornus constellation visible?

The Capricornus constellation is visible from April to December. The best time for viewing is around 9:00 p.m.

Even though it can be seen during those months, the best time for spotting the constellation is around September and October. 


4. How can I spot the Capricornus constellation?

The first step to spotting Capricornus is understanding what you're aiming to see. 

As noted, the constellation looks like a squished triangular figure. There are brighter stars that make up the triangle shape that are the easiest to spot.

A man looking through a telescope

A telescope can be extremely helpful when trying to spot the Capricornus constellation. (Marcos del Mazo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The brightest feature of the constellation is Algiedi, which is actually a pair of stars, Alpha 1 and Alpha 2, which are over 100 light years away. You should be able to spot this star without any additional tools. 

Then there's Dabih, another star pair, and below that you'll find Rho, Pi and Omicron. 

The constellation is generally very dim, so you'll probably want to grab some optical tools in order to see it more clearly. 

Another tip is to locate Sagittarius first, since that is typically an easier constellation to see and positioned close by.

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