Andromeda–Indus

Constellations – 1

THE CONSTELLATION NAMES and three-letter abbreviations in this table are those officially recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), astronomy’s governing body. The original list was agreed in 1922 at the IAU’s first-ever General Assembly – click for a scan of the published list, and a discussion of how the choice of names came about. These names, along with the first official constellation boundaries, were enshrined in two IAU books authored by the Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte (1882–1955), Délimitation scientifique des constellations and Atlas Céleste, both published in 1930. These books by Delporte remain the definitive references on the naming and delineation of the constellations.

Unfortunately, the IAU itself upset this happy consensus in 1932 when it agreed a second list of names with alternative four-letter abbreviations. In this second list, Corona Australis became ‘Corona Austrina’. In 1955 the IAU repealed these alternative four-letter abbreviations but failed to correct the Corona Australis/Corona Austrina confusion. Corona Austrina continued to appear in the constellation list given by the IAU on its own website until 2008, as did the long-defunct constellation Argo, although the rest of the astronomical community followed the Delporte books. These anomalies have now been rectified – see the IAU’s page on the constellations here.

The constellation areas in the table are those calculated by A. E. Levin (Handbook of the British Astronomical Association, 1935; reprinted 1972). I have rounded the areas in square degrees to one decimal place, and the percentages of sky coverage to three decimal places. Levin gave separate areas for Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda, two halves of the same constellation, but here I have combined them into one.

For details of the history and mythology of each constellation, see my Star Tales pages here.

For a discussion on names of individual stars, see my page on Star Names here.

Constellation

Genitive

Abbr.

Area

(square

degs.)

Area

of sky

(%)

Order

of

size

Visibility range

(full)

Visibility range

(partial)

Number

of stars

6.5*

Andromeda

Andromedae

And

722.3

1.751

19

90°N – 37°S

37°S – 68°S

152

1

Antlia

Antliae

Ant

238.9

0.579

62

49°N – 90°S

49°N – 65°N

42

6

Apus

Apodis

Aps

206.3

0.500

67

7°N – 90°S

7°N – 22°N

39

3

Aquarius

Aquarii

Aqr

979.9

2.375

10

65°N – 86°S

90°N – 65°N

172

1

Aquila

Aquilae

Aql

652.5

1.582

22

78°N – 71°S

90°N – 78°N,
71°S – 90°S

124

1

Ara

Arae

Ara

237.1

0.575

63

22°N – 90°S

44°N – 22°N

71

1

Aries

Arietis

Ari

441.4

1.070

39

90°N – 58°S

58°S – 79°S

86

1

Auriga

Aurigae

Aur

657.4

1.594

21

90°N – 34°S

34°S – 62°S

152

1

Boötes

Boötis

Boo

906.8

2.198

13

90°N – 35°S

35°S – 82°S

144

1

Caelum

Caeli

Cae

124.9

0.303

81

41°N – 90°S

62°N – 41°N

20

6

Camelopardalis

Camelopardalis

Cam

756.8

1.835

18

90°N – 3°S

3°S – 37°S

152

4

Cancer

Cancri

Cnc

505.9

1.226

31

90°N – 57°S

57°S – 83°S

104

1

Canes Venatici

Canum Venaticorum

CVn

465.2

1.128

38

90°N – 37°S

37°S – 62°S

59

5

Canis Major

Canis Majoris

CMa

380.1

0.921

43

56°N – 90°S

78°N – 56°N

147

1

Canis Minor

Canis Minoris

CMi

183.4

0.444

71

89°N – 77°S

77°S – 90°S

47

1

Capricornus

Capricorni

Cap

413.9

1.003

40

62°N – 90°S

78°N – 62°N

81

1

Carina

Carinae

Car

494.2

1.198

34

14°N – 90°S

39°N – 14°N

225

7

Cassiopeia

Cassiopeiae

Cas

598.4

1.451

25

90°N – 12°S

12°S – 43°S

157

1

Centaurus

Centauri

Cen

1060.4

2.571

9

25°N – 90°S

59°N – 25°N

281

1

Cepheus

Cephei

Cep

587.8

1.425

27

90°N – 1°S

1°S – 36°S

152

1

Cetus

Ceti

Cet

1231.4

2.985

4

65°N – 79°S

90°N – 65°N,

79°S – 90°S

189

1

Chamaeleon

Chamaeleontis

Cha

131.6

0.319

79

7°N – 90°S

14°N – 7°N

31

3

Circinus

Circini

Cir

93.4

0.226

85

19°N – 90°S

34°N – 19°N

39

6

Columba

Columbae

Col

270.2

0.655

54

46°N – 90°S

62°N – 46°N

68

4

Coma Berenices

Comae Berenices

Com

386.5

0.937

42

90°N – 56°S

56°S – 77°S

66

2

Corona Australis

Coronae Australis

CrA

127.7

0.310

80

44°N – 90°S

53°N – 44°N

46

1

Corona Borealis

Coronae Borealis

CrB

178.7

0.433

73

90°N – 50°S

50°S – 64°S

37

1

Corvus

Corvi

Crv

183.8

0.446

70

65°N – 90°S

78°N – 65°N

29

1

Crater

Crateris

Crt

282.4

0.685

53

65°N – 90°S

83°N – 65°N

33

1

Crux

Crucis

Cru

68.4

0.166

88

25°N – 90°S

34°N – 25°N

49

4

Cygnus

Cygni

Cyg

804.0

1.949

16

90°N – 28°S

28°S – 62°S

262

1

Delphinus

Delphini

Del

188.5

0.457

69

90°N – 69°S

69°S – 87°S

44

1

Dorado

Doradus

Dor

179.2

0.434

72

90°S – 20°N

41°N – 20°N

29

3

Draco

Draconis

Dra

1083.0

2.625

8

90°N – 4°S

4°S – 42°S

211

1

Equuleus

Equulei

Equ

71.6

0.174

87

90°N – 77°S

77°S – 87°S

16

1

Eridanus

Eridani

Eri

1137.9

2.758

6

32°N – 89°S

90°N – 32°N

194

1

Fornax

Fornacis

For

397.5

0.964

41

50°N – 90°S

66°N – 50°N

59

6

Gemini

Geminorum

Gem

513.8

1.245

30

90°N – 55°S

55°S – 80°S

119

1

Grus

Gruis

Gru

365.5

0.886

45

33°N – 90°S

53°N – 33°N

55

3

Hercules

Herculis

Her

1225.1

2.970

5

90°N – 38°S

38°S – 86°S

245

1

Horologium

Horologii

Hor

248.9

0.603

58

23°N – 90°S

50°N – 23°N

30

6

Hydra

Hydrae

Hya

1302.8

3.158

1

54°N – 83°S

90°N – 54°N

238

1

Hydrus

Hydri

Hyi

243.0

0.589

61

8°N – 90°S

32°N – 8°N

33

3

Indus

Indi

Ind

294.0

0.713

49

15°N – 90°S

43°N – 15°N

42

3

* NOTES ON COLUMN HEADINGS:

Visibility range (full) gives the range of latitudes from which each constellation rises fully above the horizon at some time. Stars close to the horizon will be considerably dimmed by atmospheric extinction.

Visibility range (partial) gives the latitudes from which the constellation only ever rises partly above the horizon. Constellations which never rise more than a few degrees above the horizon from a given latitude will be effectively unobservable.

Number of stars ≤6.5 gives the number of stars within the constellation of magnitude 6.5 and brighter as listed in the Hipparcos Catalogue.

Origin:

1. Original Greek constellations listed by Ptolemy in the Almagest

2. Considered by the Greeks as part of Leo; made separate by Caspar Vopel in 1536, followed by Gerardus Mercator in 1551.

3. The 12 southern constellations of Pieter Dirkszoon Keyser and Frederick de Houtman

4. Constellations added by Petrus Plancius

5. Seven constellations of Johannes Hevelius

6. The 14 southern constellations of Nicolas Louis de Lacaille

7. Part of the original Greek constellation Argo Navis, dismantled in the 18th century by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille.


Who were Ptolemy, Keyser, de Houtman, Plancius, Hevelius, and Lacaille? For more on the origin and originators of the constellations, see Chapter One of Ian Ridpath’s Star Tales.