Today, Lacaille's three subdivisions parade the sky as the officially recognized constellations of Puppis (the Stern), Carina (the Keel), and Vela (the Sails), while Argo Navis
has been swept from the celestial vault into the dustbin of abandoned star figures.
The constellation wasn't popular with other influential astronomers, however, because, among other things, its creation plundered stars from the great constellation Argo Navis
Despite being just one part of the now-defunct constellation Argo Navis
(and thus having no Alpha or Beta star, because these stars ended up being part of neighboring Carina), Vela still enjoys its fair share of bright stars.
Its origins stem from when it was the Keel of the ancient celestial ship Argo Navis
, in an age when navigating the oceans involved looking at the stars.
Its density peaks in the constellations Carina, Vela, and Puppis, a swath of the heavens known until 1930 as the constellation Argo Navis
It was Lacaille who broke the sprawling constellation Argo Navis
into three modern-day pieces--Puppis, the Stern; Vela, the Sail; and Carina, the Keel.
(the Ship) is an archaic constellation, but it was an early victim of deconstructionist taste and is now three constellations and a divided Ship.
MENTION THE CONSTELLATION Vela, the Sail, and the first thought that may come to mind is its nautical connection to the old Argo Navis
(see page 98 last month).