List of constellations

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Equirectangular plot of declination vs right ascension of the modern constellations with a dotted line denoting the ecliptic. Constellations are colour-coded by family and year established. (detailed view)

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), and include the constellations of the zodiac.

The ancient Sumerians, and later the Greeks (as recorded by Ptolemy), established most of the northern constellations in international use today. When 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.[1] After this, Eugène Joseph Delporte drew up precise boundaries for each constellation,[1] so that every point in the sky belonged to exactly one constellation.

Modern constellations[edit]

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.

ConstellationIAU abbreviation[2]Other abbreviation[3]GenitiveFamilyOriginMeaningBrightest star
Andromeda
/ænˈdrɒmɨdə/[4]
AndAndrAndromedae
/ænˈdrɒmɨdiː/
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)Andromeda (The chained lady or the Princess)Alpheratz
Antlia
/ˈæntliə/[4]
AntAntlAntliae
/ˈæntli.iː/
La Caille1763, Lacailleair pumpα Antliae
Apus
/ˈeɪpəs/[5]
ApsApusApodis
/ˈæpɵdɨs/[5]
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de HoutmanBird-of-paradiseα Apodis
Aquarius
/əˈkwɛəriəs/[4]
AqrAqarAquarii
/əˈkwɛəriaɪ/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)water-bearerSadalsuud
Aquila
/ˈækwɨlə/[4]
AqlAqilAquilae
/ˈækwɨliː/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)eagleAltair
Ara
/ˈɛərə/[5]
AraAraeArae
/ˈɛəriː/[5]
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)altarβ Arae
Aries
/ˈɛəriːz/, /ˈɛərɪ.iːz/[4][5]
AriArieArietis
/əˈraɪ.ɨtɨs/[5]
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)ramHamal
Auriga
/ɔːˈraɪɡə/[4][5]
AurAuriAurigae
/ɔːˈraɪdʒiː/[5]
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)charioteerCapella
Boötes
/boʊˈoʊtiːz/[4]
BooBootBoötis
/boʊˈoʊtɨs/
Ursa Majorancient (Ptolemy)herdsmanArcturus
Caelum
/ˈsiːləm/[5]
CaeCaelCaeli
/ˈsiːlaɪ/[5]
La Caille1763, Lacaillechiselα Caeli
Camelopardalis
/kəˌmɛlɵˈpɑrdəlɨs/[5]
CamCamlCamelopardalis
/ kəˌmɛlɵˈpɑrdəlɨs/[5]
Ursa Major1613, Plancius[6]giraffeβ Camelopardalis
Cancer
/ˈkænsər/[4]
CncCancCancri
/ˈkæŋkraɪ/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)crabTarf
Canes Venatici
/ˈkeɪniːz vɨˈnætɨsaɪ/[5]
CVnCVenCanum Venaticorum
/ˈkeɪnəm vɨnætɨˈkɒrəm/
Ursa Major1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Heveliushunting dogsCor Caroli
Canis Major
/ˈkeɪnɨs ˈmeɪdʒər/[5]
CMaCMajCanis Majoris
/ˈkeɪnɨs məˈdʒɒrɨs/
Orionancient (Ptolemy)greater dogSirius
Canis Minor
/ˈkeɪnɨs ˈmaɪnər/[5]
CMiCMinCanis Minoris
/ˈkeɪnɨs mɨˈnɒrɨs/
Orionancient (Ptolemy)lesser dogProcyon
Capricornus
/ˌkæprɨˈkɔrnəs/[5]
CapCaprCapricorni
/ˌkæprɨˈkɔrnaɪ/[5]
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)sea goatDeneb Algiedi
Carina
/kəˈraɪnə/[4]
CarCariCarinae
/kəˈraɪniː/
Heavenly Waters1763, Lacaille, split from Argo NaviskeelCanopus
Cassiopeia
/ˌkæsi.ɵˈpiːə/[4][5]
CasCassCassiopeiae
/ˌkæsi.ɵˈpiː.iː/[5]
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)Cassiopeia (mythological character)Shedir
Centaurus
/sɛnˈtɔrəs/[4]
CenCentCentauri
/sɛnˈtɔraɪ/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)centaurRigil Kentaurus
Cepheus
/ˈsiːfiəs/, /ˈsiːfjuːs/[5]
CepCephCephei
/ˈsiːfiaɪ/[5]
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)Cepheus (mythological character)Alderamin
Cetus
/ˈsiːtəs/[5]
CetCetiCeti
/ˈsiːtaɪ/[5]
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)sea monster (later interpreted as a whale)Deneb Kaitos
Chamaeleon
/kəˈmiːliən/[4]
ChaChamChamaeleontis
/kəˌmiːliˈɒntɨs/
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmanchameleonα Chamaeleontis
Circinus
/ˈsɜrsɨnəs/[4]
CirCircCircini
/ˈsɜrsɨnaɪ/
La Caille1763, Lacaillecompass (drawing tool)α Circini
Columba
/kɵˈlʌmbə/[4]
ColColmColumbae
/kɵˈlʌmbiː/
Heavenly Waters1592, Plancius, split from Canis MajordovePhact
Coma Berenices
/ˈkoʊmə bɛrəˈnaɪsiːz/[5]
ComComaComae Berenices
/ˈkoʊmiː bɛrəˈnaɪsiːz/[5]
Ursa Major1603, Uranometria, split from LeoBerenice's hairβ Comae Berenices
Corona Australis[7]
/kɵˈroʊnə ʔɔːˈstrælɨs/, /kɵˈroʊnə ʔɔːˈstreɪlɨs/[4][5]
CrACorACoronae Australis
/kɵˈroʊniː ʔɔːˈstrælɨs/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)southern crownAlphekka Meridiana
Corona Borealis
/kɵˈroʊnə ˌbɔəriˈælɨs/, /kɒˈroʊnə bɔəriˈeɪlɨs/[4][5]
CrBCorBCoronae Borealis
/kɵˈroʊniː bɔəriˈælɨs/
Ursa Majorancient (Ptolemy)northern crownAlphecca
Corvus
/ˈkɔrvəs/[4]
CrvCorvCorvi
/ˈkɔrvaɪ/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)crowGienah
Crater
/ˈkreɪtər/[4]
CrtCratCrateris
/krəˈtɪərɨs/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)cupLabrum
Crux
/ˈkrʌks/[4]
CruCrucCrucis
/ˈkruːsɨs/
Hercules1603, Uranometria, split from Centaurussouthern crossAcrux
Cygnus
/ˈsɪɡnəs/[4]
CygCygnCygni
/ˈsɪɡnaɪ/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)swan or Northern CrossDeneb
Delphinus
/dɛlˈfaɪnəs/[4]
DelDlphDelphini
/dɛlˈfaɪnaɪ/
Heavenly Watersancient (Ptolemy)dolphinRotanev
Dorado
/dəˈrɑːdəʊ/[8]
DorDoraDoradus
/dɵˈreɪdəs/
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmangoldfishα Doradus
Draco
/ˈdreɪkoʊ/[5]
DraDracDraconis
/drəˈkoʊnɨs/[5]
Ursa Majorancient (Ptolemy)dragonEtamin
Equuleus
/ɨˈkwuːliəs/[5]
EquEqulEquulei
/ɨˈkwuːliaɪ/[5]
Heavenly Watersancient (Ptolemy)ponyKitalpha
Eridanus
/ɨˈrɪdənəs/[5]
EriEridEridani
/ɨˈrɪdənaɪ/[5]
Heavenly Watersancient (Ptolemy)river Eridanus (mythology)Achernar
Fornax
/ˈfɔrnæks/
ForFornFornacis
/fɔrˈneɪsɨs/
La Caille1763, Lacaillechemical furnaceFornacis
Gemini
/ˈdʒɛmɨnaɪ/[4]
GemGemiGeminorum
/ˌdʒɛmɨˈnɒrəm/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)twinsPollux
Grus
/ˈɡrʌs/[5]
GruGrusGruis
/ˈɡruː.ɨs/[5]
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de HoutmanCraneAlnair
Hercules
/ˈhɜrkjʊliːz/[5]
HerHercHerculis
/ˈhɜrkjʊlɨs/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)Hercules (mythological character)Kornephoros
Horologium
/ˌhɒrəˈlɒdʒiəm/, /ˌhɒrəˈloʊdʒiəm/[4][5]
HorHoroHorologii
/ˌhɒrəˈloʊdʒiaɪ/
La Caille1763, Lacaillependulum clockα Horologii
Hydra
/ˈhaɪdrə/[4]
HyaHydaHydrae
/ˈhaɪdriː/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)Hydra (mythological creature)Alphard
Hydrus
/ˈhaɪdrəs/[4]
HyiHydiHydri
/ˈhaɪdraɪ/
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmanlesser water snakeβ Hydri
Indus
/ˈɪndəs/[4]
IndIndiIndi
/ˈɪndaɪ/
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de HoutmanIndian (American indigenous)The Persian
Lacerta
/ləˈsɜrtə/[4]
LacLacrLacertae
/ləˈsɜrtiː/
Perseus1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Heveliuslizardα Lacertae
Leo
/ˈliː.oʊ/[4]
LeoLeonLeonis
/liːˈoʊnɨs/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)lionRegulus
Leo Minor
/ˈliː.oʊ ˈmaɪnər/[4]
LMiLMinLeonis Minoris
/liːˈoʊnɨs mɨˈnɒrɨs/
Ursa Major1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Heveliuslesser lionPraecipua
Lepus
/ˈliːpəs/[5]
LepLepsLeporis
/ˈlɛpərɨs/[4][5]
Orionancient (Ptolemy)hareArneb
Libra
/ˈlaɪbrə/, /ˈliːbrə/[4]
LibLibrLibrae
/ˈlaɪbriː/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)balanceZubeneshamali
Lupus
/ˈljuːpəs/[4]
LupLupiLupi
/ˈljuːpaɪ/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)wolfMen
Lynx
/ˈlɪŋks/[4]
LynLyncLyncis
/ˈlɪnsɨs/
Ursa Major1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, HeveliuslynxElvashak
Lyra
/ˈlaɪrə/[4]
LyrLyraLyrae
/ˈlaɪriː/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)lyre / harpVega
Mensa
/ˈmɛnsə/[4]
MenMensMensae
/ˈmɛnsiː/
La Caille1763, LacailleTable Mountain (South Africa)α Mensae
Microscopium
/ˌmaɪkrɵˈskoʊpiəm/
MicMicrMicroscopii
/ˌmaɪkrɵˈskoʊpiaɪ/
La Caille1763, Lacaillemicroscopeγ Microscopii
Monoceros
/məˈnɒsɨrəs/[4][5]
MonMonoMonocerotis
/ˌmɒnɵsɨˈroʊtɨs/
Orion1613, Planciusunicornβ Monocerotis
Musca
/ˈmʌskə/[5]
MusMuscMuscae
/ˈmʌsiː/[4][5]
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmanflyα Muscae
Norma
/ˈnɔrmə/[4]
NorNormNormae
/ˈnɔrmiː/[4]
La Caille1763, Lacaillecarpenter's levelγ2 Normae
Octans
/ˈɒktænz/[5]
OctOctnOctantis
/ɒkˈtæntɨs/[5]
La Caille1763, Lacailleoctant (instrument)ν Oct
Ophiuchus
/ˌɒfiˈjuːkəs/[4]
OphOphiOphiuchi
/ˌɒfiˈjuːkaɪ/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)serpent-bearerRas Alhague
Orion
/ɵˈraɪ.ən/[4]
OriOrioOrionis
/ɵˈraɪ.ənɨs/, /ˌɒriˈoʊnɨs/[5]
Orionancient (Ptolemy)Orion (mythological character)Rigel
Pavo
/ˈpeɪvoʊ/[4][5]
PavPavoPavonis
/pəˈvoʊnɨs/[5]
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de HoutmanpeacockPeacock
Pegasus
/ˈpɛɡəsəs/[4]
PegPegsPegasi
/ˈpɛɡəsaɪ/
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)Pegasus (mythological winged horse)Enif
Perseus
/ˈpɜrsiəs, ˈpɜrsjuːs/[5]
PerPersPersei
/ˈpɜrsi.aɪ/[5]
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)Perseus (mythological character)Mirfak
Phoenix
/ˈfiːnɨks/[4]
PhePhoePhoenicis
/fɨˈnaɪsɨs/
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de HoutmanphoenixAnkaa
Pictor
/ˈpɪktər/[5]
PicPictPictoris
/pɪkˈtɔərɨs/[5]
La Caille1763, Lacailleeaselα Pictoris
Pisces
/ˈpaɪsiːz/, /ˈpɪsiːz/[4][5]
PscPiscPiscium
/ˈpɪʃiəm/[5]
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)fishesAlpherg
Piscis Austrinus
/ˈpaɪsɨs ɔːˈstraɪnəs/
PsAPscAPiscis Austrini
/ˈpaɪsɨs ɔːˈstraɪnaɪ/
Heavenly Watersancient (Ptolemy)southern fishFomalhaut
Puppis
/ˈpʌpɨs/[5]
PupPuppPuppis
/ˈpʌpɨs/[5]
Heavenly Waters1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navispoop deckNaos
Pyxis
/ˈpɪksɨs/[4]
PyxPyxiPyxidis
/ˈpɪksɨdɨs/
Heavenly Waters1763, Lacaillemariner's compassα Pyxidis
Reticulum
/rɨˈtɪkjʊləm/[4]
RetRetiReticuli
/rɨˈtɪkjʊlaɪ/
La Caille1763, Lacailleeyepiece graticuleα Reticuli
Sagitta
/səˈdʒɪtə/[4]
SgeSgteSagittae
/səˈdʒɪtiː/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)arrowγ Sagittae
Sagittarius
/sædʒɨˈtɛəriəs/[4]
SgrSgtrSagittarii
/ˌsædʒəˈtɛəriaɪ/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)archerKaus Australis
Scorpius
/ˈskɔrpiəs/[4]
ScoScorScorpii
/ˈskɔrpiaɪ/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)scorpionAntares
Sculptor
/ˈskʌlptər/[4]
SclSculSculptoris
/skəlpˈtɒrɨs/
La Caille1763, Lacaillesculptorα Sculptoris
Scutum
/ˈskjuːtəm/[4]
SctScutScuti
/ˈskjuːtaɪ/
Hercules1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Heveliusshield (of Sobieski)α Scuti
Serpens[9]
/ˈsɜrpɛnz/
SerSerpSerpentis
/sərˈpɛntɨs/
Herculesancient (Ptolemy)snakeUnukalhai
Sextans
/ˈsɛkstənz/[5]
SexSextSextantis
/sɛksˈtæntɨs/[5]
Hercules1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Heveliussextantα Sextantis
Taurus
/ˈtɔrəs/[4]
TauTaurTauri
/ˈtɔraɪ/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)bullAldebaran
Telescopium
/ˌtɛlɨˈskɒpiəm/
TelTeleTelescopii
/ˌtɛlɨˈskɒpiaɪ/
La Caille1763, Lacailletelescopeα Telescopii
Triangulum
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊləm/
TriTriaTrianguli
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊlaɪ/
Perseusancient (Ptolemy)triangleβ Trianguli
Triangulum Australe
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊləm ɔːˈstræliː/, /traɪˈæŋɡjʊləm ɔːˈstreɪliː/
TrATrAuTrianguli Australis
/traɪˈæŋɡjʊlaɪ ʔɔːˈstrælɨs/
Hercules1603 Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmansouthern triangleAtria
Tucana
/tjʊˈkeɪnə/
TucTucnTucanae
/tjʊˈkeɪniː/
Bayer1603 Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmantoucanα Tucanae
Ursa Major
/ˌɜrsə ˈmeɪdʒər/[4]
UMaUMajUrsae Majoris
/ˌɜrsiː məˈdʒɒrɨs/
Ursa Majorancient (Ptolemy)great bearAlioth
Ursa Minor
/ˌɜrsə ˈmaɪnər/[4]
UMiUMinUrsae Minoris
/ˌɜrsiː mɨˈnɒrɨs/
Ursa Majorancient (Ptolemy)lesser bearPolaris
Vela
/ˈviːlə/[4]
VelVelrVelorum
/vɨˈlɔərəm/
Heavenly Waters1763, Lacaille, split from Argo NavissailsRegor
Virgo
/ˈvɜrɡoʊ/[4]
VirVirgVirginis
/ˈvɜrdʒɨnɨs/
Zodiacancient (Ptolemy)virgin or maidenSpica
Volans
/ˈvoʊlænz/[5]
VolVolnVolantis
/vɵˈlæntɨs/[5]
Bayer1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtmanflying fishβ Volantis
Vulpecula
/vʌlˈpɛkjʊlə/[4]
VulVulpVulpeculae
/vʌlˈpɛkjʊliː/
Hercules1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, HeveliusfoxAnser

Former constellations[edit]

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[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Constellations". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Constellations". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  3. ^ NASA Dictionary of terms for Aerospace Use - table V, Constellations
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf OED, 2nd edition
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg Random House Dictionary
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Corona Australis is sometimes called "Corona Austrina" /ɔːˈstriːnə/ (genitive: Coronae Austrinae)
  8. ^ "Definition of dorado". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 28 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Serpens may be divided into Serpens Cauda (serpent's tail) and Serpens Caput (serpent's head)

External links[edit]