88 Modern Constellations
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88 Modern Constellations

In contemporary astronomy, 88 constellations are recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).[1] Each constellation is a region of the sky, bordered by arcs of right ascension and declination. Together they cover the entire celestial sphere, with their boundaries adopted officially by the International Astronomical Union in 1928 and published in 1930.[2]

The ancient Sumerians, and later the Greeks (as recorded by Ptolemy), established most of the northern constellations in international use today. The constellations along the ecliptic are called the zodiac. When explorers mapped the stars of the southern skies, European astronomers proposed new constellations for that region, as well as ones to fill gaps between the traditional constellations. In 1922, the International Astronomical Union adopted three-letter abbreviations for 89 constellations, the modern list of 88 plus Argo. After this, Eugène Joseph Delporte drew up boundaries for each of the 88 constellations so that every point in the sky belonged to one constellation.[1][2]

History

Some constellations are no longer recognized by the IAU, 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 IAU constellation has an official 3-letter abbreviation based on the genitive form of the constellation name. The majority of the abbreviations are just the first three letters of the constellation name, with the first character capitalised: Ori for Orion, Ara for Ara/Arae, Com for Coma Berenices. In some cases, the abbreviation is from the genitive form without appearing in the base name (as in Sge for Sagitta/Sagittae, to avoid confusion with Sagittarius, abbreviated Sgr). In other cases, to unambiguously identify the constellation, such as 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. Two cases are ambiguous: 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).[3]

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[4] NASA[5]
Andromeda
[6]
And Andr Andromedae
ancient (Ptolemy) Andromeda (The chained maiden or princess) Alpheratz
Antlia
[6]
Ant Antl Antliae
1763, Lacaille air pump ? Antliae
Apus
[7]
Aps Apus Apodis
[7]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Bird-of-paradise/Exotic Bird/Extraordinary Bird ? Apodis
Aquarius
[6]
Aqr Aqar Aquarii
ancient (Ptolemy) water-bearer Sadalsuud
Aquila
[6]
Aql Aqil Aquilae
ancient (Ptolemy) eagle Altair
Ara
[7]
Ara Arae Arae
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) altar ? Arae
Aries
[6][7]
Ari Arie Arietis
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) ram Hamal
Auriga
[6][7]
Aur Auri Aurigae
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) charioteer Capella
Boötes
[6]
Boo Boot Boötis
ancient (Ptolemy) herdsman Arcturus
Caelum
[7]
Cae Cael Caeli
[7]
1763, Lacaille chisel or graving tool ? Caeli
Camelopardalis
[7]
Cam Caml Camelopardalis
[7]
1613, Plancius[note 1] giraffe ? Camelopardalis
Cancer
[6]
Cnc Canc Cancri
ancient (Ptolemy) crab Tarf[8]
Canes Venatici
[7]
CVn CVen Canum Venaticorum
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius hunting dogs Cor Caroli
Canis Major
[7]
CMa CMaj Canis Majoris
ancient (Ptolemy) greater dog Sirius
Canis Minor
[7]
CMi CMin Canis Minoris
ancient (Ptolemy) lesser dog Procyon
Capricornus
[7]
Cap Capr Capricorni
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) sea goat Deneb Algedi
Carina
[6]
Car Cari Carinae
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis keel Canopus
Cassiopeia
[6][7]
Cas Cass Cassiopeiae
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) Cassiopeia (mythological character) Schedar[8]
Centaurus
[6]
Cen Cent Centauri
ancient (Ptolemy) centaur Rigil Kentaurus[8]
Cepheus
[7]
Cep Ceph Cephei
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) Cepheus (mythological character) Alderamin
Cetus
[7]
Cet Ceti Ceti
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) sea monster (later interpreted as a whale) Diphda[8]
Chamaeleon
[6]
Cha Cham Chamaeleontis
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman chameleon ? Chamaeleontis
Circinus
[6]
Cir Circ Circini
1763, Lacaille compasses ? Circini
Columba
[6]
Col Colm Columbae
1592, Plancius, split from Canis Major dove Phact
Coma Berenices
[7]
Com Coma Comae Berenices
[7]
1603, Uranometria, split from Leo Berenice's hair ? Comae Berenices
Corona Australis[note 2]
[6][7]
CrA CorA Coronae Australis
ancient (Ptolemy) southern crown Meridiana[8]
Corona Borealis
[6][7]
CrB CorB Coronae Borealis
ancient (Ptolemy) northern crown Alphecca
Corvus
[6]
Crv Corv Corvi
ancient (Ptolemy) crow Gienah
Crater
[6]
Crt Crat Crateris
ancient (Ptolemy) cup ? Crateris
Crux
[6]
Cru Cruc Crucis
1603, Uranometria, split from Centaurus southern cross Acrux
Cygnus
[6]
Cyg Cygn Cygni
ancient (Ptolemy) swan or Northern Cross Deneb
Delphinus
[6]
Del Dlph Delphini
ancient (Ptolemy) dolphin Rotanev
Dorado
[9]
Dor Dora Doradus
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman dolphinfish ? Doradus
Draco
[7]
Dra Drac Draconis
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) dragon Eltanin[8]
Equuleus
[7]
Equ Equl Equulei
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) pony Kitalpha
Eridanus
[7]
Eri Erid Eridani
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) river Eridanus (mythology) Achernar
Fornax
For Forn Fornacis
1763, Lacaille chemical furnace Dalim[8]
Gemini
[6]
Gem Gemi Geminorum
ancient (Ptolemy) twins Pollux
Grus
[7]
Gru Grus Gruis
[7]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman crane Alnair
Hercules
[7]
Her Herc Herculis
ancient (Ptolemy) Hercules (mythological character) Kornephoros
Horologium
[6][7]
Hor Horo Horologii
1763, Lacaille pendulum clock ? Horologii
Hydra
[6]
Hya Hyda Hydrae
ancient (Ptolemy) Hydra (mythological creature) Alphard
Hydrus
[6]
Hyi Hydi Hydri
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman lesser water snake ? Hydri
Indus
[6]
Ind Indi Indi
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman Indian (of unspecified type) ? Indi
Lacerta
[6]
Lac Lacr Lacertae
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lizard ? Lacertae
Leo
[6]
Leo Leon Leonis
ancient (Ptolemy) lion Regulus
Leo Minor
[6]
LMi LMin Leonis Minoris
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lesser lion Praecipua
Lepus
[7]
Lep Leps Leporis
[6][7]
ancient (Ptolemy) hare Arneb
Libra
[6]
Lib Libr Librae
ancient (Ptolemy) balance Zubeneschamali[8]
Lupus
[6]
Lup Lupi Lupi
ancient (Ptolemy) wolf ? Lupi
Lynx
[6]
Lyn Lync Lyncis
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius lynx ? Lyncis
Lyra
[6]
Lyr Lyra Lyrae
ancient (Ptolemy) lyre / harp Vega
Mensa
[6]
Men Mens Mensae
1763, Lacaille Table Mountain (South Africa) ? Mensae
Microscopium
Mic Micr Microscopii
1763, Lacaille microscope ? Microscopii
Monoceros
[6][7]
Mon Mono Monocerotis
1613, Plancius unicorn ? Monocerotis
Musca
[7]
Mus Musc Muscae
[6][7]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman fly ? Muscae
Norma
[6]
Nor Norm Normae
[6]
1763, Lacaille carpenter's level ?2 Normae
Octans
[7]
Oct Octn Octantis
[7]
1763, Lacaille octant (instrument) ? Octantis
Ophiuchus
[6]
Oph Ophi Ophiuchi
ancient (Ptolemy) serpent-bearer Rasalhague
Orion
[6]
Ori Orio Orionis
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) Orion (mythological character) Rigel
Pavo
[6][7]
Pav Pavo Pavonis
[7]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman peacock Peacock
Pegasus
[6]
Peg Pegs Pegasi
ancient (Ptolemy) Pegasus (mythological winged horse) Enif
Perseus
[7]
Per Pers Persei
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) Perseus (mythological character) Mirfak
Phoenix
[6]
Phe Phoe Phoenicis
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman phoenix Ankaa
Pictor
[7]
Pic Pict Pictoris
[7]
1763, Lacaille easel ? Pictoris
Pisces
[6][7]
Psc Pisc Piscium
[7]
ancient (Ptolemy) fishes Alpherg
Piscis Austrinus
PsA PscA Piscis Austrini
ancient (Ptolemy) southern fish Fomalhaut
Puppis
[7]
Pup Pupp Puppis
[7]
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis poop deck Naos
Pyxis
[6]
Pyx Pyxi Pyxidis
1763, Lacaille mariner's compass ? Pyxidis
Reticulum
[6]
Ret Reti Reticuli
1763, Lacaille eyepiece graticule ? Reticuli
Sagitta
[6]
Sge Sgte Sagittae
ancient (Ptolemy) arrow ? Sagittae
Sagittarius
[6]
Sgr Sgtr Sagittarii
ancient (Ptolemy) archer Kaus Australis
Scorpius
[6]
Sco Scor Scorpii
ancient (Ptolemy) scorpion Antares
Sculptor
[6]
Scl Scul Sculptoris
1763, Lacaille sculptor ? Sculptoris
Scutum
[6]
Sct Scut Scuti
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius shield (of Sobieski) ? Scuti
Serpens[10]
Ser Serp Serpentis
ancient (Ptolemy) snake Unukalhai
Sextans
[7]
Sex Sext Sextantis
[7]
1690, Firmamentum Sobiescianum, Hevelius sextant ? Sextantis
Taurus
[6]
Tau Taur Tauri
ancient (Ptolemy) bull Aldebaran
Telescopium
Tel Tele Telescopii
1763, Lacaille telescope ? Telescopii
Triangulum
Tri Tria Trianguli
ancient (Ptolemy) triangle ? Trianguli
Triangulum Australe
TrA TrAu Trianguli Australis
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman southern triangle Atria
Tucana
Tuc Tucn Tucanae
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman toucan ? Tucanae
Ursa Major
[6]
UMa UMaj Ursae Majoris
ancient (Ptolemy) great bear Alioth
Ursa Minor
[6]
UMi UMin Ursae Minoris
ancient (Ptolemy) lesser bear Polaris
Vela
[6]
Vel Velr Velorum
1763, Lacaille, split from Argo Navis sails ?2 Velorum
Virgo
[6]
Vir Virg Virginis
ancient (Ptolemy) virgin or maiden Spica
Volans
[7]
Vol Voln Volantis
[7]
1603, Uranometria, created by Keyser and de Houtman flying fish ? Volantis
Vulpecula
[6]
Vul Vulp Vulpeculae
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

Notes

  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ Corona Australis is sometimes called "Corona Austrina" (genitive: Coronae Austrinae).

References

  1. ^ a b "The Constellations". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved .
  2. ^ a b Eugène Delporte; International Astronomical Union (1930). Délimitation scientifique des constellations. At the University press.
  3. ^ Russell, Henry Norris (1922). "The New International Symbols for the Constellations". Popular Astronomy. 30: 469. Bibcode:1922PA.....30..469R.
  4. ^ "The Constellations". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 2015.
  5. ^ NASA Dictionary of terms for Aerospace Use - table V, Constellations
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h "Naming Stars". IAU.org. Retrieved 2018.
  9. ^ "Definition of dorado". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2012.
  10. ^ Serpens may be divided into Serpens Cauda (serpent's tail) and Serpens Caput (serpent's head)

External links


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