The southern constellation Sculptor represents a sculptor’s studio/workshop. It is one of fifteen designated to honor random 18th century crap by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. When Lacaille got married and his bride said her vows, she probably ended with “…and I’ll be naming our kids and pets.”
For all you deepsky enthusiasts, there are a couple of awesome galaxies in Sculptor. First of all, there is the Silver Dollar Galaxy, so named because it is too valuable to throw away but too big to carry around in your pocket. Other names for it are NGC 253, the Sculptor Galaxy, and That Big One in the Constellation Created by a French Guy with Five Parts to His Name.
The Silver Dollar is big in a telescope. I’d say it’s as impressive as Andromeda or the Sombrero. So it’s definitely worth chasing down in the autumn sky. If the bright star Fomalhaut is up then you should be able to locate the galaxy nearby.
Another thing cool about this one is that it is a starburst galaxy. That means it has a full tank of hydrogen and is cranking out new stars the way galaxies use to, back when gas prices were more reasonable.
Credit for the discovery of the Silver Dollar goes to Caroline Herschel who found it in 1783 while searching for new comets. Caroline discovered several comets and galaxies and what not. She is considered the first woman to ever get paid to do science. That’s an amazing accomplishment when you consider that not only was she a woman in a man’s world, she was only four foot three, blind in one eye, and her father played the oboe.
The Cartwheel Galaxy (ESO 350-40) looks like a cartwheel. So that’s a relief. We think it use to be a normal spiral but then it got rear-ended by a dwarf. There are a couple of other big galaxies nearby that probably saw what happened but eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable. As damaged as it looks it really isn’t that bad. It’ll buff out. In just a few hundred million years it will be good as new.