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The Constellations

Name Genitive Meaning Notable Features
Zodiac constellations (Ptolemy)
Aries Arietis Ram  
Taurus Tauri Bull Brightest star Aldebaran; Pleiades star cluster; Crab Nebula
Gemini Geminorum Twins Brightest stars Castor and Pollux
Cancer Cancri Crab Star cluster Praesepe
Leo Leonis Lion Brightest star Regulus
Virgo Virginis Virgin Brightest star Spica
Libra Librae Balance  
Scorpius Scorpii Scorpion Brightest star Antares
Sagittarius Sagittarii Archer Milky Way's centre
Capricornus Capricorni Sea-goat  
Aquarius Aquarii Water-bearer  
Pisces Piscium Fishes  
Other constellations of Ptolemy
Andromeda Andromedae Andromeda (from Greek Mythology) Spiral galaxy Andromeda (AKA, M31)
Aquila Aquilae Eagle Brightest star Altair
Ara Arae Altar  
Argo Navis Argus Navis The legendary ship 'Argo' Now consisting of various smaller constellations including Carina, Puppis, Pyxis and Vela
Auriga Aurigae Charioteer Brightest star Capella; open star clusters M36, M37 and M38
Boötes Boötis Herdsman Brightest star Arcturus
Canis Major Canis Majoris Greater dog Brightest star Sirius
Canis Minor Canis Minoris Smaller dog Brightest star Procyon
Cassiopeia Cassiopeiae Cassiopeia (from Greek Mythology) Tycho’s nova appeared in Cassiopeia in 1572
Centaurus Centauri Centaur (possibly Chiron) Alpha Centauri (with Proxima), the closest star to the sun
Cepheus Cephei Cepheus, from Greek Mythology Delta Cephei, the cepheid variable prototype
Cetus Ceti Whale First-known variable star Mira Ceti
Corona Austrina Coronae Austrinae Southern crown  
Corona Borealis Coronae Borealis Northern crown  
Corvus Corvi Raven  
Crater Crateris Cup  
Cygnus Cygni Swan Northern Cross asterism; brightest star Deneb
Delphinus Delphini Dolphin Job's Coffin asterism
Draco Draconis Dragon Thuban star, the polestar of 3000 BC
Equuleus Equulei Little horse  
Eridanus Eridani River Eridanus/river god Brightest star Achernar
Hercules Herculis Hercules (from Greek Mythology) Globular star cluster M13
Hydra Hydrae Water snake  
Lepus Leporis Hare  
Lupus Lupi Wolf  
Lyra Lyrae Lyre Brightest star Vega - will be the polestar in approximately 10,000 years; Ring Nebula/M57
Ophiuchus Ophiuchi Serpent-bearer De facto Zodiac constellation
Orion Orionis Hunter Brightest star Rigel; Great Nebula (AKA, M42)
Pegasus Pegasi Pegasus, the winged horse Great Square of Pegasus stars
Perseus Persei Perseus, from Greek Mythology  
Piscis Austrinus Piscis Austrini Southern fish Brightest star Fomalhaut
Sagitta Sagittae Arrow  
Serpens Serpentis Serpent  
Triangulum Trianguli Triangle M33 spiral galaxy
Ursa Major Ursae Majoris Great bear Big Dipper
Ursa Minor Ursae Minoris Lesser bear North polestar Polaris
Southern Constellations, c.1600
Apus Apodis Bird of paradise  
Chamaeleon Chamaeleontis Chamaeleon  
Dorado Doradus Swordfish Large Magellanic Cloud
Grus Gruis Crane  
Hyrdus Hydri Water snake  
Indus Indi Indian  
Musca Muscae Fly  
Pavo Pavonis Peacock  
Phoenix Phoenicis Phoenix, mythical bird  
Triangulum Australe Trianguli Australis Southern triangle  
Tucana Tucanae Toucan Small Magellanic Cloud
Volans Volantis Flying fish  
Constellations of Bartsch, 1624
Camelopardalis Camelopardalis Giraffe  
Columba Columbae Dove    
Monoceros Monocerotis Unicorn  
Constellations of Hevelius, 1687
Canes Venatici Canum Venaticorum Hunting dogs Whirlpool Galaxy (AKA, M51)
Lacerta Lacertae Lizard  
Leo Minor Leonis Minoris Lesser lion  
Lynx Lyncis Lynx  
Scutum Scuti Shield Scutim star cloud in the Milky Way
Vulpecula Vulpeculae Fox Dumbbell Nebula (AKA, M27)
Ancient asterisms, now separate constellations
Carina Carinae Keel from the Argo [legendary ship] Brightest star Canopus
Coma Berenices Comae Berenices Berenice's hair A coma [star cluster] and the north galactic pole
Crux Crucis Cross [southern]  
Puppis Puppis Stern [of the 'Argo']  
Pyxis Pyxidis Compass [of the 'Argo']  
Vela Velorum Sails [of the 'Argo']  
Southern constellations of Lacaille, c.1750
Antlia Antliae Pump  
Caelum Caeli Chisel [sculptor's]  
Circinus Circini Drawing compasses  
Fornax Fornacis Furnace [chemical]  
Horologium Horologii Clock  
Mensa Mensae Table [mountain]  
Microscopium Microscopii Microscope  
Norma Normae Square  
Octans Octantis Octant South celestial pole
Pictor Pictoris Painter's [easel]  
Reticulum Reticuli Reticle  
Sculptor Sculptoris Sculptor's [workshop] South galactic pole
Telescopium Telescopii Telescope  

Sources

Encyclopaedia Britannica Almanac 2009. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., 2009.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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