Camelopardalis | Cancer | Canes Venatici | Canis Major | Canis Minor | Capricornus | Carina | Cassiopeia | Centaurus
Cepheus | Cetus | Chamæleon | Circinus | Columba | Coma Berenices | Corona Australis | Corona Borealis | Corvus
Crater | Crux | Cygnus | Delphinus | Dorado | Draco | Equuleus | Eridanus | Fornax | Gemini | Grus | Hercules | Horologium
Hydra | Hydrus | Indus | Lacerta | Leo | Leo Minor | Lepus | Libra | Lupus | Lynx | Lyra | Mensa | Microscopium | Monoceros
Musca | Norma | Octans | Ophiuchus | Orion | Pavo | Pegasus | Perseus | Phoenix | Pictor | Pisces | Piscis Austrinus
Puppis | Pyxis | Reticulum | Sagitta | Sagittarius | Scorpius | Sculptor | Scutum | Serpens | Sextans | Taurus
Telescopium | Triangulum | Triangulum Australe | Tucana | Ursa Major | Ursa Minor | Vela | Virgo | Volans | Vulpecula
Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled.
– 'Candle In The Wind' lyrics by Bernie Taupin, famously recorded by Sir Elton John
|Formerly:||Norma et Regula|
|Meaning:||the Set Square; the Carpenter's (or Surveyor's) Level|
|Area:||165 square degrees|
|Co-ordinates1:||Right Ascension 16h, Declination −50°|
When this star grouping was created by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713 - 62), he named it L'Équerre et La Règle, which meant 'The Set Square and The Ruler'. The French astronomer is famous for his posthumous catalogue Coelum Australe Stelliferum which described 14 new constellations and 42 nebulous objects among almost 10,000 southern stars. This information was garnered on a mid-18th Century expedition to the Cape of Good Hope, effectively a blank canvas sky to map for Lacaille, who used the planet Mars as a point of reference.
During a comparatively short life, Nicolas Louis de Lacaille made more observations and calculations than all the astronomers of his time put together.
– Joseph Jérôme Lefrançais de Lalande (1732 - 1807)
L'Équerre et La Règle was Latinised to Norma et Regula (the Level and the Square), eventually becoming just Norma, which the constellation is known as today.
A lower case Greek letter combined with the genitive of the constellation name is known as a star's 'Bayer designation', after the man who devised the system of cataloguing stars. Some stars have proper names as well, for example, alpha Canis Minoris is Procyon, but there are no named stars in Norma. Other stars, like HD 148937, are known by their catalogue number. Newly discovered variable stars like QU Normae are given upper case English letters.
Normally the Greek-lettered stars are assigned in order of brightness per constellation, eg alpha Carinae, or Canopus, is the luminary of Carina. However, when the IAU reordered the constellation boundaries in 1922, they reassigned some of Norma's stars to neighbouring constellations, therefore there is no longer an alpha or a beta Normae.
HD 148937 is a blue hypergiant star surrounded by a bipolar nebula (NGC 6164-5). This star is so hot it emits ultraviolet light which heats up the gas of the nebula, causing it to glow. The nebular gas is believed to have been ejected at high speed from the star, and has already expanded to a distance of four light years2. Now at the end of its stellar lifetime, HD 148937 is expected to go supernova at some point in the future, but we don't know when. Until then, thanks to X-ray observatories, we have a ringside seat to enjoy the final spectacular performance of this supermassive star.
Mu Normae is a blue-white supergiant and part of a group of stars which together form NGC 6169, more commonly known as the Mu Normae Cluster.
S Normae is a Cepheid variable-type which has the spectral classification F8-G0Ib and is a member of the open cluster designated NGC 6087.
|γ2||gamma2 Nor||+4.02||130||Yellow giant|
|ε||epsilon Nor||+4.5 and +6.6||400||Binary system|
|ι||iota Nor||+4.6 var||140 av||Multiple|
|η||eta Nor||+4.65||200||Yellow giant|
|δ||delta Nor||+4.72||123||White dwarf|
|κ||kappa Nor||+4.94||440||Yellow giant|
|γ1||gamma1 Nor||+4.99||400||White giant|
|QU||QU Nor||+5.35 var||B1.5Iape|
|μ||mu Nor||+5.5||3,500||Member of NGC 6169|
|λ||lambda Nor||+5.45||450||White subgiant|
|S||S Nor||+6.1/+6.7 var||F8-G0Ib|
|HD 148937||+6.77||4,200||Creates NGC 6164-5|
|HD 142415||+7.34 var||111||Yellow dwarf/
has a planet
The New General Catalogue (NGC) was compiled by John Louis Emil Dreyer (the director of the Armagh Observatory from 1882 to 1916). Other notable features of Norma are listed in other catalogues, like the Menzel.
NGC 6164-5 is a bipolar emission nebula. The massive star HD 148937 has thrown off gas and then illuminates it, which we can see thanks to the image taken by the Gemini Observatory and supplied to Astronomy Picture of the Day.
NGC 5946 is a globular cluster discovered by John Herschel in July 1834.
The Norma Cluster aka ACO 3627 is a cluster of galaxies up to 250 million light years away.
Menzel 3 is the absolutely breathtaking bipolar nebula commonly called the Ant Nebula. The speed that the gas is travelling has been measured at a mind-boggling 3.5 million km/hr; this is the fastest that has been recorded for this type of nebula.
Discovered in 1936, the doughnut-shaped planetary nebula Shapley 1 is better known as Shapley's Ring and the Fine Ring Nebula, which are easier to remember than its official designation of PK 329+2.1.
NGC 6067, NGC 6087, NGC 5999 (Dun 343), NGC 6031 (Dun 359), NGC 6134 (Dun 412) and NGC 5925 (Dun 357) are all open star clusters which were discovered by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop (1793 - 1848) when he was working at Parramatta Observatory, New South Wales, Australia.
|Menzel 3||Bipolar nebula||+13.8||3,000||Ant Nebula|
|NGC 6164-5||Bipolar emission nebula||+6.7||4,200||Pre-supernova|
|Shapley 1||Planetary nebula||+13||4,700||Fine Ring Nebula|
|NGC 5946||Globular cluster||+9.6||34,600||h 3607|
|NGC 6087||Open cluster||+5.4||2,910||40+ stars|
|NGC 6067||Open cluster||+5.6||4,620||100+ stars|
|NGC 6169||Open cluster||+7.0||3,590||Mu Normae Cluster|
|ACO 3627||Galaxy cluster||Var||250m||The Norma Cluster|
The meteor shower connected with this constellation is called the Gamma Normids. The display happens between 11 and 21 March with the maximum occuring around 16 March. As the Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) is an average seven, it is considered a minor shower.
Extrasolar Planets in Norma
Four extrasolar planets found in this constellation up to 2009 are HD 142415 b, HD 330075 b, HD 143361 b and HD 148156 b. The orbital period given in the table below is the time the planet takes to orbit its parent star, which we know of as a year. The mass of the extrasolar planet is compared with that of Jupiter, our Solar System's largest planet, known by astronomers as the 'Jovian scale'.
HD 142415 is a yellow dwarf star of the same class and age as our own Sun. It has a planet HD 142415 b which orbits in the system's habitable zone. As a gas giant, however, it's not a candidate for the search for extra-terrestrial life.
HD 330075 b orbits its star so tightly that it is tidally locked. Effectively two of its years occur in the space of one Earth week. Being bombarded with solar radiation from such close proximity and with an estimated mean temperature of 570°C, there's no possible chance of life as we know it on this world.
HD 143361 b is a superjovian world orbiting its yellow dwarf star at a stately 2AU distance.
HD 148156 is a yellow dwarf star of the same class as our own Sun, although it has about a fifth greater mass. Its planet, HD 148156 b, is a gas giant orbiting the star in about three (Earth) years.
Extrasolar Planets Table
|Star name or
|Year of discovery||Comments|
|HD 142415||HD 142415 b||1.62||386||2003||Gas giant; habitable zone|
|HD 330075||HD 330075 b||0.76||3.37||2004||Hot Jupiter|
|HD 143361||HD 143361 b||3.12||1,057||2008||Superjovian|
|HD 148156||HD 148156 b||0.91||1,010||2009||Gas giant|
Norma in Modern Culture
Norma is a girl's Christian name, the feminine of Norman. Well known Normas include Norma Jean Baker, also known as Marilyn Monroe, and Norma Major, the wife of former British Prime Minister Sir John Major.
Norma the Medical Term
'Norma lateralis' is a view of the skull from the side. If the position of viewpoint is from above and looking down, it would be called 'norma verticalis'. This is a medical term which is quite useful to know in case you ever want to impress your friends.
Norma the Opera
There is a famous opera called Norma, by Vincenzo Bellini (1801 - 1835). It was one of Maria Callas' signature roles, and is probably most famous for the aria 'Casta Diva'. The opera takes place in Gaul, in Roman times. Norma is a Druid priestess, the daughter of an arch-Druid. The theme of the opera is Norma's conflict between love and duty and inevitably ends in her death. Before the time of the opera begins, Norma has been in love with the Roman pro-consul in Gaul, and has borne him two sons, breaking her vow of chastity in doing so, although nobody suspects this. As the opera begins, our Roman has fallen for 'the younger woman' in the form of one of the virgin acolytes. The acolyte confides to Norma that she (the acolyte) has broken her vow and loves – of all things – a Roman. Norma does not yet know who the Roman is. She soon does and is hell-bent on revenge. Norma considers killing her children, but her motherly instinct prevails; she does however declare war on the Romans. Just at that moment, the pro-consul is brought in, having been captured breaking into the sacred temple. The sentence for this violation is death, but still with something in her heart for him, she offers the crowd an alternative victim – a virgin of the order who has broken her vow. She then announces to the crowd that she herself is the wrong-doer. A pyre is erected and Norma climbs up onto it. The Roman pro-consul turns face-about again and jumps onto the pyre to join her.