88 modern constellations

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In modern astronomy, the sky (celestial sphere) is divided into 88 regions called constellations, generally based on the asterisms (which are also called "constellations") of Greek and Roman mythology. Those along the ecliptic are 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.

History

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.

Modern constellations

The 88 constellations depict 42 animals, 29 inanimate objects and 17 humans or mythological characters.

Abbreviations

Each of the IAU constellations has an official 3 letter abbreviation. They are actually abbreviations of the genitive form of the constellation names, so some letters appearing in the abbreviation may come from the genitive form without appearing in the base name (as in Sge for Sagitta/Sagittae, to avoid confusion with Sagittarius, abbreviated Sgr).

The majority of the abbreviations are just the first three letters of the constellation, with the first character capitalised: Ori for Orion, Ara for Ara/Arae, Com for Coma Berenices. In cases where this would not unambiguously identify the constellation, or where the name and its genitive differ in the first three letters, other letters beyond the initial three are used: Aps for Apus/Apodis, CrA for Corona Australis, CrB for Corona Borealis, Crv for Corvus. (Crater is abbreviated Crt to prevent confusion with CrA.)

When letters are taken from the second word of a two-word name, the first letter from the second word is capitalised: CMa for Canis Major, CMi for Canis Minor.

The abbreviations are unambiguous, with two exceptions. Leo for the constellation Leo could be mistaken for Leo Minor (abbreviated LMi), and Tri for Triangulum could be mistaken for Triangulum Australe (abbreviated TrA).[2]

List

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 Genitive Origin Meaning Brightest star
IAU[1] Other[3]
Andromeda
/ænˈdrɒmɪdə/[4]
And Andr Andromedae
/ænˈdrɒmɪd/
ancient (Ptolemy) Andromeda (The chained maiden or princess) Alpheratz
Antlia
/ˈæntliə/[4]
Ant Antl Antliae
/ˈæntli/
1763, Lacaille air pump α Antliae
Apus
/ˈpəs/[5]
Aps Apus Apodis
/ˈæpdɪs/[5]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Bird-of-paradise/Exotic Bird/Extraordinary Bird α Apodis
Aquarius
/əˈkwɛəriəs/[4]
Aqr Aqar Aquarii
/əˈkwɛəri/
ancient (Ptolemy) water-bearer Sadalsuud
Aquila
/ˈækwɪlə/[4]
Aql Aqil Aquilae
/ˈækwɪl/
ancient (Ptolemy) eagle Altair
Ara
/ˈɛərə/[5]
Ara Arae Arae
/ˈɛər/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) altar β Arae
Aries
/ˈɛər(i)z/[4][5]
Ari Arie Arietis
/əˈr.ɪtɪs/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) ram Hamal
Auriga
/ɔːˈrɡə/[4][5]
Aur Auri Aurigae
/ɔːˈr/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) charioteer Capella
Boötes
/bˈtz/[4]
Boo Boot Boötis
/bˈtɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) herdsman Arcturus
Caelum
/ˈsləm/[5]
Cae Cael Caeli
/ˈsl/[5]
1763, Lacaille chisel or graving tool α Caeli
Camelopardalis
/kəˌmɛlˈpɑːrdəlɪs/[5]
Cam Caml Camelopardalis
/kəˌmɛlˈpɑːrdəlɪs/[5]
1613, Plancius[6] giraffe β Camelopardalis
Cancer
/ˈkænsər/[4]
Cnc Canc Cancri
/ˈkæŋkr/
ancient (Ptolemy) crab Tarf
Canes Venatici
/ˈknz vɪˈnætɪs/[5]
CVn CVen Canum Venaticorum
/ˈknəm vɪnætɪˈkɒrəm/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius hunting dogs Cor Caroli
Canis Major
/ˈknɪs ˈmər/[5]
CMa CMaj Canis Majoris
/ˈknɪs məˈɒrɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) greater dog Sirius
Canis Minor
/ˈknɪs ˈmnər/[5]
CMi CMin Canis Minoris
/ˈknɪs mɪˈnɒrɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) lesser dog Procyon
Capricornus
/ˌkæprɪˈkɔːrnəs/[5]
Cap Capr Capricorni
/ˌkæprɪˈkɔːrn/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) sea goat Deneb Algedi
Carina
/kəˈrnə/[4]
Car Cari Carinae
/kəˈrn/
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis keel Canopus
Cassiopeia
/ˌkæsiˈpə/[4][5]
Cas Cass Cassiopeiae
/ˌkæsiˈp/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) Cassiopeia (mythological character) Shedir
Centaurus
/sɛnˈtɔːrəs/[4]
Cen Cent Centauri
/sɛnˈtɔːr/
ancient (Ptolemy) centaur Alpha Centauri
Cepheus
/ˈsfiəs, -fjuːs/[5]
Cep Ceph Cephei
/ˈsfi/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) Cepheus (mythological character) Alderamin
Cetus
/ˈstəs/[5]
Cet Ceti Ceti
/ˈst/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) sea monster (later interpreted as a whale) Deneb Kaitos
Chamaeleon
/kəˈmliən/[4]
Cha Cham Chamaeleontis
/kəˌmliˈɒntɪs/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman chameleon α Chamaeleontis
Circinus
/ˈsɜːrsɪnəs/[4]
Cir Circ Circini
/ˈsɜːrsɪn/
1763, Lacaille compasses α Circini
Columba
/kˈlʌmbə/[4]
Col Colm Columbae
/kˈlʌmb/
1592, Plancius, split from Canis Major dove Phact
Coma Berenices
/ˈkmə bɛrəˈnsz/[5]
Com Coma Comae Berenices
/ˈkm bɛrəˈnsz/[5]
1603, Uranometria, split from Leo Berenice's hair β Comae Berenices
Corona Australis[7]
/kˈrnə ɔːˈstrælɪs, -ˈstr-/[4][5]
CrA CorA Coronae Australis
/kˈrn ɔːˈstrælɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) southern crown Alphekka Meridiana
Corona Borealis
/kˈrnə ˌbɔːriˈælɪs, -ˈlɪs/[4][5]
CrB CorB Coronae Borealis
/kˈrn bɔːriˈælɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) northern crown Alphecca
Corvus
/ˈkɔːrvəs/[4]
Crv Corv Corvi
/ˈkɔːrv/
ancient (Ptolemy) crow Gienah
Crater
/ˈkrtər/[4]
Crt Crat Crateris
/krəˈtɪərɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) cup Labrum
Crux
/ˈkrʌks/[4]
Cru Cruc Crucis
/ˈkrsɪs/
1603, Uranometria, split from Centaurus southern cross Acrux
Cygnus
/ˈsɪɡnəs/[4]
Cyg Cygn Cygni
/ˈsɪɡn/
ancient (Ptolemy) swan or Northern Cross Deneb
Delphinus
/dɛlˈfnəs/[4]
Del Dlph Delphini
/dɛlˈfn/
ancient (Ptolemy) dolphin Rotanev
Dorado
/dəˈrɑːd/[8]
Dor Dora Doradus
/dəˈrdəs/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman dolphinfish α Doradus
Draco
/ˈdrk/[5]
Dra Drac Draconis
/drəˈknɪs/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) dragon Etamin
Equuleus
/ɪˈkwliəs/[5]
Equ Equl Equulei
/ɪˈkwli/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) pony Kitalpha
Eridanus
/ɪˈrɪdənəs/[5]
Eri Erid Eridani
/ɪˈrɪdən/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) river Eridanus (mythology) Achernar
Fornax
/ˈfɔːrnæks/
For Forn Fornacis
/fɔːrˈnsɪs/
1763, Lacaille chemical furnace Fornacis
Gemini
/ˈɛmɪn/[4]
Gem Gemi Geminorum
/ˌɛmɪˈnɒrəm/
ancient (Ptolemy) twins Pollux
Grus
/ˈɡrʌs/[5]
Gru Grus Gruis
/ˈɡrɪs/[5]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Crane Alnair
Hercules
/ˈhɜːrkjʊlz/[5]
Her Herc Herculis
/ˈhɜːrkjʊlɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) Hercules (mythological character) Kornephoros
Horologium
/ˌhɒrəˈlɒiəm, -ˈl-/[4][5]
Hor Horo Horologii
/ˌhɒrəˈli/
1763, Lacaille pendulum clock α Horologii
Hydra
/ˈhdrə/[4]
Hya Hyda Hydrae
/ˈhdr/
ancient (Ptolemy) Hydra (mythological creature) Alphard
Hydrus
/ˈhdrəs/[4]
Hyi Hydi Hydri
/ˈhdr/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman lesser water snake β Hydri
Indus
/ˈɪndəs/[4]
Ind Indi Indi
/ˈɪnd/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Indian (of unspecified type) The Persian
Lacerta
/ləˈsɜːrtə/[4]
Lac Lacr Lacertae
/ləˈsɜːrt/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lizard α Lacertae
Leo
/ˈl/[4]
Leo Leon Leonis
/lˈnɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) lion Regulus
Leo Minor
/ˈl ˈmnər/[4]
LMi LMin Leonis Minoris
/lˈnɪs mɪˈnɒrɪs/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lesser lion Praecipua
Lepus
/ˈlpəs/[5]
Lep Leps Leporis
/ˈlɛpərɪs/[4][5]
ancient (Ptolemy) hare Arneb
Libra
/ˈlbrə, ˈl-/[4]
Lib Libr Librae
/ˈlbr/
ancient (Ptolemy) balance Zubeneshamali
Lupus
/ˈljpəs/[4]
Lup Lupi Lupi
/ˈljp/
ancient (Ptolemy) wolf Men
Lynx
/ˈlɪŋks/[4]
Lyn Lync Lyncis
/ˈlɪnsɪs/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lynx Elvashak
Lyra
/ˈlrə/[4]
Lyr Lyra Lyrae
/ˈlr/
ancient (Ptolemy) lyre / harp Vega
Mensa
/ˈmɛnsə/[4]
Men Mens Mensae
/ˈmɛns/
1763, Lacaille Table Mountain (South Africa) α Mensae
Microscopium
/ˌmkrˈskpiəm/
Mic Micr Microscopii
/ˌmkrˈskpi/
1763, Lacaille microscope γ Microscopii
Monoceros
/məˈnɒsɪrəs/[4][5]
Mon Mono Monocerotis
/ˌmɒnəsɪˈrtɪs/
1613, Plancius unicorn β Monocerotis
Musca
/ˈmʌskə/[5]
Mus Musc Muscae
/ˈmʌs/[4][5]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman fly α Muscae
Norma
/ˈnɔːrmə/[4]
Nor Norm Normae
/ˈnɔːrm/[4]
1763, Lacaille carpenter's level γ2 Normae
Octans
/ˈɒktænz/[5]
Oct Octn Octantis
/ɒkˈtæntɪs/[5]
1763, Lacaille octant (instrument) ν Oct
Ophiuchus
/ˌɒfiˈjuːkəs/[4]
Oph Ophi Ophiuchi
/ˌɒfiˈjuːk/
ancient (Ptolemy) serpent-bearer Rasalhague
Orion
/ˈrən/[4]
Ori Orio Orionis
/ˈrənɪs, ˌɒriˈnɪs/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) Orion (mythological character) Rigel
Pavo
/ˈpv/[4][5]
Pav Pavo Pavonis
/pəˈvnɪs/[5]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman peacock Peacock
Pegasus
/ˈpɛɡəsəs/[4]
Peg Pegs Pegasi
/ˈpɛɡəs/
ancient (Ptolemy) Pegasus (mythological winged horse) Enif
Perseus
/ˈpɜːrsiəs, -sjs/[5]
Per Pers Persei
/ˈpɜːrsi/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) Perseus (mythological character) Mirfak
Phoenix
/ˈfnɪks/[4]
Phe Phoe Phoenicis
/fɪˈnsɪs/
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman phoenix Ankaa
Pictor
/ˈpɪktər/[5]
Pic Pict Pictoris
/pɪkˈtɔːrɪs/[5]
1763, Lacaille easel α Pictoris
Pisces
/ˈpsz, ˈpɪ-/[4][5]
Psc Pisc Piscium
/ˈpɪʃiəm/[5]
ancient (Ptolemy) fishes Alpherg
Piscis Austrinus
/ˈpsɪs ɔːˈstrnəs/
PsA PscA Piscis Austrini
/ˈpsɪs ɔːˈstrn/
ancient (Ptolemy) southern fish Fomalhaut
Puppis
/ˈpʌpɪs/[5]
Pup Pupp Puppis
/ˈpʌpɪs/[5]
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis poop deck Naos
Pyxis
/ˈpɪksɪs/[4]
Pyx Pyxi Pyxidis
/ˈpɪksɪdɪs/
1763, Lacaille mariner's compass α Pyxidis
Reticulum
/rɪˈtɪkjʊləm/[4]
Ret Reti Reticuli
/rɪˈtɪkjʊl/
1763, Lacaille eyepiece graticule α Reticuli
Sagitta
/səˈɪtə/[4]
Sge Sgte Sagittae
/səˈɪt/
ancient (Ptolemy) arrow γ Sagittae
Sagittarius
/sæɪˈtɛəriəs/[4]
Sgr Sgtr Sagittarii
/ˌsæəˈtɛəri/
ancient (Ptolemy) archer Kaus Australis
Scorpius
/ˈskɔːrpiəs/[4]
Sco Scor Scorpii
/ˈskɔːrpi/
ancient (Ptolemy) scorpion Antares
Sculptor
/ˈskʌlptər/[4]
Scl Scul Sculptoris
/skəlpˈtɒrɪs/
1763, Lacaille sculptor α Sculptoris
Scutum
/ˈskjuːtəm/[4]
Sct Scut Scuti
/ˈskjuːt/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius shield (of Sobieski) α Scuti
Serpens[9]
/ˈsɜːrpɛnz/
Ser Serp Serpentis
/sərˈpɛntɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) snake Unukalhai
Sextans
/ˈsɛkstənz/[5]
Sex Sext Sextantis
/sɛksˈtæntɪs/[5]
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius sextant α Sextantis
Taurus
/ˈtɔːrəs/[4]
Tau Taur Tauri
/ˈtɔːr/
ancient (Ptolemy) bull Aldebaran
Telescopium
/ˌtɛlɪˈskɒpiəm/
Tel Tele Telescopii
/ˌtɛlɪˈskɒpi/
1763, Lacaille telescope α Telescopii
Triangulum
/trˈæŋɡjʊləm/
Tri Tria Trianguli
/trˈæŋɡjʊl/
ancient (Ptolemy) triangle β Trianguli
Triangulum Australe
/trˈæŋɡjʊləm ɔːˈstræl, -ˈstr-/
TrA TrAu Trianguli Australis
/trˈæŋɡjʊl ɔːˈstrælɪs/
1603 Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman southern triangle Atria
Tucana
/tjˈknə/
Tuc Tucn Tucanae
/tjˈkn/
1603 Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman toucan α Tucanae
Ursa Major
/ˌɜːrsə ˈmər/[4]
UMa UMaj Ursae Majoris
/ˌɜːrs məˈɒrɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) great bear Alioth
Ursa Minor
/ˌɜːrsə ˈmnər/[4]
UMi UMin Ursae Minoris
/ˌɜːrs mɪˈnɒrɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) lesser bear Polaris
Vela
/ˈvlə/[4]
Vel Velr Velorum
/vɪˈlɔːrəm/
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis sails Regor
Virgo
/ˈvɜːrɡ/[4]
Vir Virg Virginis
/ˈvɜːrɪnɪs/
ancient (Ptolemy) virgin or maiden Spica
Volans
/ˈvlænz/[5]
Vol Voln Volantis
/vˈlæntɪs/[5]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman flying fish β Volantis
Vulpecula
/vʌlˈpɛkjʊlə/[4]
Vul Vulp Vulpeculae
/vʌlˈpɛkjʊl/
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius fox Anser

Asterisms

Various other unofficial patterns exist 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

References

  1. ^ a b c "The Constellations". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 9 December 2015. 
  2. ^ Russell, Henry Norris (1922). "The New International Symbols for the Constellations". Popular Astronomy. 30: 469. Bibcode:1922PA.....30..469R. 
  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" /ɔːˈstrnə/ (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

  • http://www.ianridpath.com/constellations1.htmIan Ridpath's list of constellations.
  • http://www.ianridpath.com/startales/contents.htmIan Ridpath's Star Tales.
  • http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/Cat?cat=VI/49CDS's archive of constellation boundaries. The text file constbnd.dat gives the 1875.0 coordinates of the vertices of the constellation regions, together with the constellations adjacent to each boundary segment.
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