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Each culture divides the stars of the night sky into its own set of constellations, usually based on mythology. This article covers the 88 constellations used in modern astronomy, which properly speaking are not patterns of stars, as in the common use of the word, but areas of the sky (the celestial sphere).

The ancient Babylonians, and later the Greeks (as recorded by Ptolemy), established most of the northern constellations in international use today. When European explorers mapped the stars of the southern skies, European and American astronomers proposed new constellations for that region, as well as ones to fill gaps between the traditional constellations. Not all of these proposals caught on, but in 1922, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) adopted the modern list of 88 constellations. After this, Eugène Delporte drew up precise boundaries for each constellation, so that every point in the sky belonged to exactly one constellation.

Modern constellations

For help with the literary English pronunciations, see the pronunciation key. There is considerable diversity in how Latinate names are pronounced in English. For traditions closer to the original, see Latin spelling and pronunciation.

constellation abbreviations[1][2] genitive origin meaning brightest star
Andromeda
/ænˈdrɒmɨdə/[3]
And Andr Andromedae
/ænˈdrɒmɨdiː/
ancient (Ptolemy) Andromeda (mythological character) Alpheratz
Antlia
/ˈæntliə/[3]
Ant Antl Antliae
/ˈæntli.iː/
1763, Lacaille air pump α Antliae
Apus
/ˈeɪpəs/[4]
Aps Apus Apodis
/ˈæpɵdɨs/[4]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Bird-of-paradise α Apodis
Aquarius
/əˈkwɛəriəs/[3]
Aqr Aqar Aquarii
/əˈkwɛəriaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) water-bearer Sadalsud
Aquila
/ˈækwɨlə/[3]
Aql Aqil Aquilae
/ˈækwɨliː/
ancient (Ptolemy) eagle Altair
Ara
/ˈɛərə/[4]
Ara Arae Arae
/ˈɛəriː/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) altar β Arae
Aries
/ˈɛəriːz/, /ˈɛərɪ.iːz/[3][4]
Ari Arie Arietis
/əˈraɪ.ɨtɨs/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) ram Hamal
Auriga
/ɔːˈraɪɡə/[3][4]
Aur Auri Aurigae
/ɔːˈraɪdʒiː/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) charioteer Capella
Boötes
/boʊˈoʊtiːz/[3]
Boo Boot Boötis
/boʊˈoʊtɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) herdsman Arcturus
Caelum
/ˈsiːləm/[4]
Cae Cael Caeli
/ˈsiːlaɪ/[4]
1763, Lacaille chisel α Caeli
Camelopardalis
/kəˌmɛlɵˈpɑrdəlɨs/[4]
Cam Caml Camelopardalis
/ kəˌmɛlɵˈpɑrdəlɨs/[4]
1613, Plancius[5] giraffe β Camelopardalis
Cancer
/ˈkænsər/[3]
Cnc Canc Cancri
/ˈkæŋkraɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) crab Tarf
Canes Venatici
/ˈkeɪniːz vɨˈnætɨsaɪ/[4]
CVn CVen Canum Venaticorum
/ˈkeɪnəm vɨnætɨˈkɒrəm/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius hunting dogs Cor Caroli
Canis Major
/ˈkeɪnɨs ˈmeɪdʒər/[4]
CMa CMaj Canis Majoris
/ˈkeɪnɨs məˈdʒɒrɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) greater dog Sirius
Canis Minor
/ˈkeɪnɨs ˈmaɪnər/[4]
CMi CMin Canis Minoris
/ˈkeɪnɨs mɨˈnɒrɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) lesser dog Procyon
Capricornus
/ˌkæprɨˈkɔrnəs/[4]
Cap Capr Capricorni
/ˌkæprɨˈkɔrnaɪ/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) sea goat Deneb Algiedi
Carina
/kəˈraɪnə/[3]
Car Cari Carinae
/kəˈraɪniː/
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis keel Canopus
Cassiopeia
/ˌkæsi.ɵˈpiːə/[3][4]
Cas Cass Cassiopeiae
/ˌkæsi.ɵˈpiː.iː/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) Cassiopeia (mythological character) Shedir
Centaurus
/sɛnˈtɔrəs/[3]
Cen Cent Centauri
/sɛnˈtɔraɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) centaur Rigil Kentaurus
Cepheus
/ˈsiːfiəs/, /ˈsiːfjuːs/[4]
Cep Ceph Cephei
/ˈsiːfiaɪ/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) Cepheus (mythological character) Alderamin
Cetus
/ˈsiːtəs/[4]
Cet Ceti Ceti
/ˈsiːtaɪ/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) sea monster (later interpreted as a whale) Deneb Kaitos
Chamaeleon
/kəˈmiːliən/[3]
Cha Cham Chamaeleontis
/kəˌmiːliˈɒntɨs/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman chameleon α Chamaeleontis
Circinus
/ˈsɜrsɨnəs/[3]
Cir Circ Circini
/ˈsɜrsɨnaɪ/
1763, Lacaille compass (drawing tool) α Circini
Columba
/kɵˈlʌmbə/[3]
Col Colm Columbae
/kɵˈlʌmbiː/
1592, Plancius, split from Canis Major dove Phact
Coma Berenices
/ˈkoʊmə bɛrəˈnaɪsiːz/[4]
Com Coma Comae Berenices
/ˈkoʊmiː bɛrəˈnaɪsiːz/[4]
1603, Uranometria, split from Leo Berenice's hair β Comae Berenices
Corona Australis[6]
/kɵˈroʊnə ʔɔːˈstrælɨs/, /kɵˈroʊnə ʔɔːˈstreɪlɨs/[3][4]
CrA CorA Coronae Australis
/kɵˈroʊniː ʔɔːˈstrælɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) southern crown Alphekka Meridiana
Corona Borealis
/kɵˈroʊnə ˌbɔəriˈælɨs/, /kɒˈroʊnə bɔəriˈeɪlɨs/[3][4]
CrB CorB Coronae Borealis
/kɵˈroʊniː bɔəriˈælɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) northern crown Alphecca
Corvus
/ˈkɔrvəs/[3]
Crv Corv Corvi
/ˈkɔrvaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) crow Gienah
Crater
/ˈkreɪtər/[3]
Crt Crat Crateris
/krəˈtɪərɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) cup Labrum
Crux
/ˈkrʌks/[3]
Cru Cruc Crucis
/ˈkruːsɨs/
1603, Uranometria, split from Centaurus southern cross Acrux
Cygnus
/ˈsɪɡnəs/[3]
Cyg Cygn Cygni
/ˈsɪɡnaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) swan Deneb
Delphinus
/dɛlˈfaɪnəs/[3]
Del Dlph Delphini
/dɛlˈfaɪnaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) dolphin Rotanev
Dorado
/dɵˈreɪdoʊ/
Dor Dora Doradus
/dɵˈreɪdəs/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman gold fish α Doradus
Draco
/ˈdreɪkoʊ/[4]
Dra Drac Draconis
/drəˈkoʊnɨs/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) dragon Etamin
Equuleus
/ɨˈkwuːliəs/[4]
Equ Equl Equulei
/ɨˈkwuːliaɪ/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) pony Kitalpha
Eridanus
/ɨˈrɪdənəs/[4]
Eri Erid Eridani
/ɨˈrɪdənaɪ/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) river Eridanus (mythology) Achernar
Fornax
/ˈfɔrnæks/
For Forn Fornacis
/fɔrˈneɪsɨs/
1763, Lacaille chemical furnace Fornacis
Gemini
/ˈdʒɛmɨnaɪ/[3]
Gem Gemi Geminorum
/ˌdʒɛmɨˈnɒrəm/
ancient (Ptolemy) twins Pollux
Grus
/ˈɡrʌs/[4]
Gru Grus Gruis
/ˈɡruː.ɨs/[4]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Crane Alnair
Hercules
/ˈhɜrkjʊliːz/[4]
Her Herc Herculis
/ˈhɜrkjʊlɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) Hercules (mythological character) Kornephoros
Horologium
/ˌhɒrəˈlɒdʒiəm/, /ˌhɒrəˈloʊdʒiəm/[3][4]
Hor Horo Horologii
/ˌhɒrəˈloʊdʒiaɪ/
1763, Lacaille pendulum clock α Horologii
Hydra
/ˈhaɪdrə/[3]
Hya Hyda Hydrae
/ˈhaɪdriː/
ancient (Ptolemy) Hydra (mythological creature) Alphard
Hydrus
/ˈhaɪdrəs/[3]
Hyi Hydi Hydri
/ˈhaɪdraɪ/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman lesser water snake β Hydri
Indus
/ˈɪndəs/[3]
Ind Indi Indi
/ˈɪndaɪ/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Indian (American indigenous) The Persian
Lacerta
/ləˈsɜrtə/[3]
Lac Lacr Lacertae
/ləˈsɜrtiː/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lizard α Lacertae
Leo
/ˈliː.oʊ/[3]
Leo Leon Leonis
/liːˈoʊnɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) lion Regulus
Leo Minor
/ˈliː.oʊ ˈmaɪnər/[3]
LMi LMin Leonis Minoris
/liːˈoʊnɨs mɨˈnɒrɨs/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lesser lion Praecipua
Lepus
/ˈliːpəs/[4]
Lep Leps Leporis
/ˈlɛpərɨs/[3][4]
ancient (Ptolemy) hare Arneb
Libra
/ˈlaɪbrə/, /ˈliːbrə/[3]
Lib Libr Librae
/ˈlaɪbriː/
ancient (Ptolemy) balance Zubeneshamali
Lupus
/ˈljuːpəs/[3]
Lup Lupi Lupi
/ˈljuːpaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) wolf Men
Lynx
/ˈlɪŋks/[3]
Lyn Lync Lyncis
/ˈlɪnsɨs/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lynx Elvashak
Lyra
/ˈlaɪrə/[3]
Lyr Lyra Lyrae
/ˈlaɪriː/
ancient (Ptolemy) lyre / harp Vega
Mensa
/ˈmɛnsə/[3]
Men Mens Mensae
/ˈmɛnsiː/
1763, Lacaille Table Mountain (South Africa) α Mensae
Microscopium
/ˌmaɪkrɵˈskoʊpiəm/
Mic Micr Microscopii
/ˌmaɪkrɵˈskoʊpiaɪ/
1763, Lacaille microscope γ Microscopii
Monoceros
/məˈnɒsɨrəs/[3][4]
Mon Mono Monocerotis
/ˌmɒnɵsɨˈroʊtɨs/
1613, Plancius unicorn β Monocerotis
Musca
/ˈmʌskə/[4]
Mus Musc Muscae
/ˈmʌsiː/[3][4]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman fly α Muscae
Norma
/ˈnɔrmə/[3]
Nor Norm Normae
/ˈnɔrmiː/[3]
1763, Lacaille carpenter's level γ2 Normae
Octans
/ˈɒktænz/[4]
Oct Octn Octantis
/ɒkˈtæntɨs/[4]
1763, Lacaille octant ν Oct
Ophiuchus
/ˌɒfiˈjuːkəs/[3]
Oph Ophi Ophiuchi
/ˌɒfiˈjuːkaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) serpent-bearer Ras Alhague
Orion
/ɵˈraɪ.ən/[3]
Ori Orio Orionis
/ɵˈraɪ.ənɨs/, /ˌɒriˈoʊnɨs/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) Orion (mythological character) Rigel
Pavo
/ˈpeɪvoʊ/[3][4]
Pav Pavo Pavonis
/pəˈvoʊnɨs/[4]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman peacock Peacock
Pegasus
/ˈpɛɡəsəs/[3]
Peg Pegs Pegasi
/ˈpɛɡəsaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) Pegasus (mythological winged horse) Enif
Perseus
/ˈpɜrsiəs, ˈpɜrsjuːs/[4]
Per Pers Persei
/ˈpɜrsi.aɪ/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) Perseus (mythological character) Mirfak
Phoenix
/ˈfiːnɨks/[3]
Phe Phoe Phoenicis
/fɨˈnaɪsɨs/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman phoenix Ankaa
Pictor
/ˈpɪktər/[4]
Pic Pict Pictoris
/pɪkˈtɔərɨs/[4]
1763, Lacaille easel α Pictoris
Pisces
/ˈpaɪsiːz/, /ˈpɪsiːz/[3][4]
Psc Pisc Piscium
/ˈpɪʃiəm/[4]
ancient (Ptolemy) fishes Alpherg
Piscis Austrinus
/ˈpaɪsɨs ɔːˈstraɪnəs/
PsA PscA Piscis Austrini
/ˈpaɪsɨs ɔːˈstraɪnaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) southern fish Fomalhaut
Puppis
/ˈpʌpɨs/[4]
Pup Pupp Puppis
/ˈpʌpɨs/[4]
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis poop deck Naos
Pyxis
/ˈpɪksɨs/[3]
Pyx Pyxi Pyxidis
/ˈpɪksɨdɨs/
1763, Lacaille mariner's compass α Pyxidis
Reticulum
/rɨˈtɪkjʊləm/[3]
Ret Reti Reticuli
/rɨˈtɪkjʊlaɪ/
1763, Lacaille eyepiece graticule α Reticuli
Sagitta
/səˈdʒɪtə/[3]
Sge Sgte Sagittae
/səˈdʒɪtiː/
ancient (Ptolemy) arrow γ Sagittae
Sagittarius
/sædʒɨˈtɛəriəs/[3]
Sgr Sgtr Sagittarii
/ˌsædʒəˈtɛəriaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) archer Kaus Australis
Scorpius
/ˈskɔrpiəs/[3]
Sco Scor Scorpii
/ˈskɔrpiaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) scorpion Antares
Sculptor
/ˈskʌlptər/[3]
Scl Scul Sculptoris
/skəlpˈtɒrɨs/
1763, Lacaille sculptor α Sculptoris
Scutum
/ˈskjuːtəm/[3]
Sct Scut Scuti
/ˈskjuːtaɪ/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius shield (of Sobieski) α Scuti
Serpens[7]
/ˈsɜrpɛnz/
Ser Serp Serpentis
/sərˈpɛntɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) snake Unukalhai
Sextans
/ˈsɛkstənz/[4]
Sex Sext Sextantis
/sɛksˈtæntɨs/[4]
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius sextant α Sextantis
Taurus
/ˈtɔrəs/[3]
Tau Taur Tauri
/ˈtɔraɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) bull Aldebaran
Telescopium
/ˌtɛlɨˈskɒpiəm/
Tel Tele Telescopii
/ˌtɛlɨˈskɒpiaɪ/
1763, Lacaille telescope α Telescopii
Triangulum
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊləm/
Tri Tria Trianguli
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊlaɪ/
ancient (Ptolemy) triangle β Trianguli
Triangulum Australe
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊləm ɔːˈstræliː/, /traɪˈæŋɡjʊləm ɔːˈstreɪliː/
TrA TrAu Trianguli Australis
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊlaɪ ʔɔːˈstrælɨs/
1603 Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman southern triangle Atria
Tucana
/tjʊˈkeɪnə/
Tuc Tucn Tucanae
/tjʊˈkeɪniː/
1603 Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman toucan α Tucanae
Ursa Major
/ˌɜrsə ˈmeɪdʒər/[3]
UMa UMaj Ursae Majoris
/ˌɜrsiː məˈdʒɒrɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) great bear Alioth
Ursa Minor
/ˌɜrsə ˈmaɪnər/[3]
UMi UMin Ursae Minoris
/ˌɜrsiː mɨˈnɒrɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) lesser bear Polaris
Vela
/ˈviːlə/[3]
Vel Velr Velorum
/vɨˈlɔərəm/
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis sails Regor
Virgo
/ˈvɜrɡoʊ/[3]
Vir Virg Virginis
/ˈvɜrdʒɨnɨs/
ancient (Ptolemy) virgin or maiden Spica
Volans
/ˈvoʊlænz/[4]
Vol Voln Volantis
/vɵˈlæntɨs/[4]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman flying fish β Volantis
Vulpecula
/vʌlˈpɛkjʊlə/[3]
Vul Vulp Vulpeculae
/vʌlˈpɛkjʊliː/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius fox Anser

Former constellations

Some constellations are no longer recognized by the International Astronomical Union, but may appear in older star charts and other references. Most notable is Argo Navis, which was one of Ptolemy's original 48 constellations.

Asterisms

Various other unofficial patterns have existed alongside the constellations. These are known as "asterisms." Examples include the Big Dipper and the Northern Cross. Some ancient asterisms, for example Coma Berenices, Serpens, and portions of Argo Navis, are now officially constellations.

See also

References

  1. "The Constellations". International Astronomical Union. http://www.iau.org/public/constellations/. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  2. NASA Dictionary of terms for Aerospace Use - table V, Constellations
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 3.32 3.33 3.34 3.35 3.36 3.37 3.38 3.39 3.40 3.41 3.42 3.43 3.44 3.45 3.46 3.47 3.48 3.49 3.50 3.51 3.52 3.53 3.54 3.55 3.56 3.57 OED, 2nd edition
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 4.41 4.42 4.43 4.44 4.45 4.46 4.47 4.48 4.49 4.50 4.51 4.52 4.53 4.54 4.55 4.56 4.57 4.58 Random House Dictionary
  5. The constellations Camelopardalis, Columba, and Monoceros, formed by Petrus Plancius in 1592 and in 1613, are often erroneously attributed to Jacob Bartsch and Augustin Royer
  6. Corona Australis is sometimes called "Corona Austrina" /ɔːˈstriːnə/ (genitive: Coronae Austrinae)
  7. Serpens may be divided into Serpens Cauda (serpent's tail) and Serpens Caput (serpent's head)

External links


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