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GENERAL ASTRONOMY ARTICLES


THE CONSTELLATIONS : Part 2
NAMES and ABBREVIATIONS


THE MODERN CONSTELLATIONS


The following tables on this page gives the listing of the presently accepted constellations in the sky. All have been ratified and have been internationally agreed since 1930.

Table 1 gives the proper name of the constellation, followed by its genitive form, and the adopted three letters, and the mostly discontinued four letter abbreviation. I.e. The bright star in Aquila is Alpha (α) Aquilae, abbreviated as α Aql. This table also give the area in square degrees and the constellations order of size from Hydra (1) to Crux (2).

Table 2 is a more basic list of all the Modern Constellations, each being colour coded by dividing them into South, North, Equatorial and the Zodiac.

Table 3 gives a listing of the Top 10 smallest and largest constellations in the sky.

Table 4. gives some of the names of the traditionally known older constellation names that are either now unused or that have been abbreviated for practical use.



Table 1. The Modern Constellations

No. NAME GENITIVE 3 letter
ABB.
4 letter
ABB.
AREA
sq.degrees
SIZE
No.
01 Andromeda Andromedae And Andr 722.278 19
02 Antlia Antliae Ant Antl 238.901 62
03 Apus Apodis Aps Apus 206.327 68
04 Aquarius Aquarii Aqr Aqar 979.854 10
05 Aquila Aquilae Aql Aqil 652.473 22
06 Ara Arae Ara Arae 237.057 63
07 Aries Arietis Ari Arie 441.395 38
08 Auriga Aurigae Aur Auri 657.438 21
09 Bootes Bootis Boo Boot 906.831 13
10 Caelum Caeli Cae Cael 124.865 82
11 Camelopardalis Camelopardalis Cam Caml 756.828 18
12 Cancer Cancri Cnc Canc 505.872 30
13 Canes Venatici Canum Venaticorum CVn CVen 465.194 37
14 Canis Major Canis Majoris CMa CMaj 380.118 43
15 Canis Minor Canis Minoris CMi CMin 183.367 72
16 Capricornus Capricorni Cap Capr 413.947 40
17 Carina Carinae Car Cari 494.184 33
18 Cassiopeia Cassiopeiae Cas Cass 598.407 24
19 Centaurus Centauri Cen Cent 1060.422 9
20 Cepheus Cephei Cep Ceph 587.787 26
21 Cetus Ceti Cet Ceti 1231.411 4
22 Chamaeleon Chamaeleontis Cha Cham 131.592 80
23 Circinus Circini Cir Circ 93.353 86
24 Columba Columbae Col Colm 270.184 54
25 Coma Berenices Comae Berenices Com Coma 386.475 42
26 Corona Australis Coronae Australis CrA CorA 127.696 81
27 Corona Borealis Coronae Borealis CrB CorB 178.710 74
28 Corvus Corvi Crv Corv 183.801 71
29 Crater Crateris Crt Crat 282.398 53
30 Crux Crucis Cru Cruc 68.447 89
31 Cygnus Cygni Cyg Cygn 803.983 16
32 Delphinus Delphini Del Dlph 188.549 70
33 Dorado Doradus Dor Dora 179.173 73
34 Draco Draconis Dra Drac 1082.952 8
35 Equuleus Equulei Equ Equi 71.641 88
36 Eridanus Eridani Eri Erid 1137.919 6
37 Fornax Fornacis For Forn 397.502 41
38 Gemini Geminorum Gem Gemi 513.761 29
39 Grus Gruis Gru Grus 365.513 45
40 Hercules Herculis Her Here 1225.148 5
41 Horologium Horologii Hor Horo 248.885 58
42 Hydra Hydrae Hya Hyda 1302.844 1
43 Hydrus Hydri Hyi Hydi 243.035 61
44 Indus Indi Ind Indi 294.006 49
45 Lacerta Lacertae Lac Lacr 200.688 69
46 Leo Leonis Leo Leon 946.964 12
47 Leo Minor Leo Minoris LMi LMin 231.956 64
48 Lepus Leporis Lep Leps 290.291 51
49 Libra Librae Lib Libr 538.052 28
50 Lupus Lupi Lup Lupi 333.683 46
51 Lynx Lyncis Lyn Lyne 545.386 27
52 Lyra Lyrae Lyr Lyra 286.476 52
53 Mensa Mensae Men Mens 153.484 76
54 Microscopium Microscopii Mic Micr 209.513 66
55 Monoceros Monocerotis Mon Mono 481.569 34
56 Musca Muscae Mus Musc 138.355 78
57 Norma Normae Nor Norm 165.290 75
58 Octans Octantis Oct Octa 291.045 50
59 Ophiuchus Ophiuchi Oph Ophi 948.340 11
60 Orion Orionis Ori Orio 594.120 25
61 Pavo Pavonis Pav Pavo 377.666 44
62 Pegasus Pegasi Peg Pegs 1120.794 7
63 Perseus Persei Per Pers 614.997 23
64 Phoenix Phoenicis Phe Phoe 469.319 36
65 Pictor Pictoris Pic Pict 246.739 59
66 Pisces Piscium Psc Pisc 889.417 14
67 Piscis Austrinus Piscis Austrini PsA PscA 245.375 60
68 Puppis Puppis Pup Pupp 673.434 20
69 Pyxis Pyxidis Pyx Pyxi 220.833 65
70 Reticulum Reticuli Ret Reti 113.936 83
71 Sagitta Sagittae Sge Sgre 79.932 87
72 Sagittarius Sagittarii Sgr Sgtr 867.432 15
73 Scorpius Scorpii Sco Scor 496.783 32
74 Sculptor Sculptoris Scl Scul 474.164 35
75 Scutum Scuti Sct Scut 109.114 85
76a Serpens Caput Serpentis Ser Serp 428.484 39
76b Serpens Cauda Serpentis Ser Serp 208.444 67
77 Sextans Sextantis Sex Sext 313.515 47
78 Taurus Tauri Tau Taur 797.249 17
79 Telescopium Telescopii Tel Tele 251.512 57
80 Triangulum Trianguli Tri Tria 131.847 79
81 Triangulum Australe Trianguli Australis TrA TrAu 109.978 84
82 Tucana Tucanae Tuc Tuca 294.557 48
83 Ursa Major Ursae Majoris UMa UMaj 1279.660 3
84 Ursa Minor Ursae Minoris UMi UMin 255.864 56
85 Vela Velorum Vel Velr 499.649 31
86 Virgo Virginis Vir Virg 1294.428 2
87 Volans Volantis Vol Voln 141.354 77
88 Vulpecula Vulpeculae Vul Vulp 268.165 55


The Constellations : Basic Table


Table 2. The Modern Constellations : Basic Table

CONSTELLATION COLOURS:
South = Yellow, North = Red, Equatorial = Light Blue, Zodiac = Medium Blue
NAME NAME
Andromeda Lacerta
Antlia Leo
Apus Leo Minor
Aquarius Lepus
Aquila Libra
Ara Lupus
Aries Lynx
Auriga Lyra
Bootes Mensa
Caelum Microscopium
Camelopardalis Monoceros
Cancer Musca
Canes Venatici Norma
Canis Major Octans
Canis Minor Ophiuchus
Capricornus Orion
Carina Pavo
Cassiopeia Pegasus
Centaurus Perseus
Cepheus Phoenix
Cetus Pictor
Chamaeleon Pisces
Circinus Piscis Austrinus
Columba Puppis
Coma Berenices Pyxis
Corona Australis Reticulum
Corona Borealis Sagitta
Corvus Sagittarius
Crater Scorpius
Crux Sculptor
Cygnus Scutum
Delphinus Serpens Caput
Dorado Serpens Cauda
Draco Sextans
Equuleus Taurus
Eridanus Telescopium
Fornax Triangulum
Gemini Triangulum Australe
Grus Tucana
Hercules Ursa Major
Horologium Ursa Minor
Hydra Vela
Hydrus Virgo
Indus Volans
Vulpecula


SMALLEST and LARGEST CONSTELLATIONS



Table 3. The Smallest and Largest Constellations

No. Smallest Largest
1 Crux Hydra
2 Equuleus Virgo
3 Sagitta Ursa Major
4 Circinus Cetus
5 Scutum Hercules
6 Triangulum Australe Eridanus
7 Reticulum Pegasus
8 Caelum Draco
9 Corona Australis Centaurus
10 Chamaeleon Aquarius



GENERAL NOTES on the CONSTELLATIONS

1) Argo Navis now includes Carina, Puppis and Vela. Pyxis was once named as Malus. Total Area for Argo Navis is 1867.267 square degrees or 4.53% of the entire sky.

2) Total spherical area of the entire sky is 41,252.9612494… square degrees or 12.5664 steradians.

3) Constellation areas are in some dispute, as the their totals do not add up exactly to the area of the entire sphere. Areas that are quoted in the literature are often given from English observer A. E. Levin during 1935. These were calculated by old seven digit logarithm tables, whose small cumulative errors are significant. The method used divides each part into sector, found by the differences in right ascensions and declinations within each constellations, then totals them up to get the constellation area. In 1937, another useful paper Constellations by D.F. Brocchi gives another set of results .
The boundary data is taken from Delporte boundaries, which are in epoch 1875.0

4) Scorpius is the name of the astronomical constellation, while Scorpio is the astrological name. Some older astronomical books before 1930, however, sometimes use Scorpio.

5) Southern Ophiuchus passes through the zodiac, making it the mostly unrecognised 13th zodiacal constellation. Some consider this part of the ecliptic as part of Scorpius, whose length on the ecliptic is only 6° 17′ while Ophiuchus is 18° 30′ or three times longer.

6) Nebeculae Major (NMa) culminates on 13th December.

7) Nebeculae Minor (NMi) culminates on 3rd October.

8) Three southern constellations and their genetive names are very confusing to the novice (and me!), and even the most skilful get them occasionally wrong. These are;
  a.) Corona Australis / Coronae Australis
  b.) Piscis Austrinus / Piscis Austrini
  c.) Triangulum Australe / Trianguli Australis

Mnemonically, I have remembered the words; Crown Bliss [same] for CrA; Two Venus & one Fishy for PsA, then trim-rally & tri-bliss for TrA. Another is the confusion with Pisces and Piscis Austrinus, being either two fishes or just one solitary fish. (Perhaps just remember the line, there are more fish in the zodiac than in Australia!)

9) Originally, Corona Australis was officially by the recognised as Corona Austrina. It has since been corrected, but still embarrassingly holds this other name in the original IAU legislation decree.

10) Simplest in constellation shape, having only four boundaries on the celestial sphere, totalling ten in number are; Canis Major, Corona Australis, Chamaeleon, Crux, Microscopium, Piscis Austrinus, Telescopium, Scutum, Sextans and Volans. Here Canis Major is the largest rectangular area, while Crux is the smallest. I.e. 380.1 sq. degrees to 68.4 sq.degrees, being 5.6 times bigger than Cruxs area) or 18% the size of Canis Major.

11) Variable stars designations sometimes use numbers to assigned them to their constellations. These are from 1 for Andromeda to 88 for Vulpecula (See Main Constellation List (Table 1, above), with the following numbers as; AS R0001, R0002 etc. This used designation also appears within the now continuously updated General Catalogue of Variable Stars (GCVS). Version 4.2.



Shortened Terms and Older Deleted Constellation Names


Reduction of some constellations names were mercifully made for some simplification. Many of the common ones appearing in the literature are listed in Table 3 below.

Those highlighted in RED are Southern Constellations, while those with an asterisks (*) are the now the universally accepted Shortened Constellation Names. Also Nebeculae Magellani are both the LMC & SMC





Table 4. Older Constellation Names

Antinous Antlia ; Antlia Pneumatica *
Caelum ; Caelum (Caela) Scalptorium *
(Sculptors Chisel)
Cerberus (Three Headed Snake)
Cela Sculptoria ( Gravers Tools)
Columba; Columba Noae (or Noachi)
(The Dove)
Custos Messium
Felis
(The Cat)
Fornax / Fornax Chemica
(The Chemical Furnace) *
Globus Aerostaticus or vel Aetherius
(The Balloon)
Horologium Oscillatorium
(The Clock)*
Lochium Funis [now Pyxis]
(Log and Line) *
Lynx ; Lynrsive Tigis *
(Lynx)
Machina Electria
(Electricity Generator)
Mensa ; Mons Mensae *
Table Mountain : Cape of Good Hope
Mons Maenalus Musca ; Musca Australis vel Indica
Apis (Southern or Indian Fly) *
Musca Borealis / Vespa (Fly/Wasp) Nebeculae Major
Nebecula Minor Noctura: Turdus Solitarius
Norma ; Norma et Regula * or
Quadrans Euclidus (Euclids Square) *
Octans
Octans Hadleianus *
Officina Topographica
(The Printing Office)
Ophiuchus
Ophiuchus vel Sepentarius *
Pictor : Equuleus Pictoris
(Painters Easel)
Phoenicoterusnow Grus *
(The Crane)
Psalterium Georgi
(Georgi Harp)
Pyxis
Pyxis Nautica *
Quadrans Muralis Recticulum : Reticulus Rhomboidalis *
(Rhomboidal Net)
Robur Carolinum *
Charles Oak (α Robinis = β Car)
Sextans ; Sextans Uraniae
Scutum ; Scutum Sobiescianum Sceptrum Brandenburgicum
Sculptor : Apparatus Sculptoris *
(Sculptors Tools)
Solarium
(Sundial)
Rangifer / Tarandus vel Rangifer
(Reindeer)
Taurus Poniatovii
(Poiniatowsllis Bull)
Telescopium ; Telescopium Solarium
or Tubus Astronomicus *
Triangulum Minor or
Triangula
Telescopium Herschelii
(Herschels Telescope)
Triangulum Australe
(Once Part of Norma)
Turdus Solitarius
(Solitary Thrush)
Vultur et Lyra (Vulture and Harp)
Lyra (The Lyre or Harp)


Useful Subconstellations for Amateurs


Table 5 lists the large constellations that have been reduced by roughly half their size to match more balanced areas. After the 1930 decision, several people had noted some flaws it the divisions of the constellations. I.e. D.F. Brocchi stated in 1937, the system of the constellations is not free from objectionable features, among which may be mentioned lack of compactness of form in some cases, the worst being Hydra, 108 degrees in length with an average width of 12 degrees.

Although not officially recognised nor stated (my invention here), it might be useful to further divide these much larger constellations, mostly so that sky maps are more equal in size. Also these two parts are best divided by their Latin terms, where Orientus is (East), Occidens is (West), Supernus (Superior) and Improbus (Inferior). (Australis and Borealis are already used in the constellations for north and south, so I have not adopted this here.)

Of course, there is nor superiority nor inferiority to their area, but they give an indication of their original northern origins — usually the northern parts of these constellations against the more modern southern additions. Best of all, this only enhanced nomenclature but does not destroy, challenge or recreate the now well-established eighty-eight constellations decided in 1930. It simply enhances the usefulness of areas of when spotting various deep-sky objects into less imposing star patterns.

Another advantage is to split large constellations from about −30° South declination, making firmer the division between the northern and southern skies. This is especially useful with large north-south oriented Eridanus, Virgo, Puppis and Cetus. Similarly, Hydra is split in two by right ascension, making observations of the two segments more logical instead of being spread over 7 hours RA or one-third of the entire sky circumference. Logically, dividing Hydra here is to detached it from the 11 hour RA in Epoch 1875.0, making more sensible pieces of near equal size, changing the area of Hydra of about 1,303 sq,deg, into about 713 for Hydra Occidens (East) and 590 sq.deg. for Hydra Orientus (West). These are more manageable areas, being similar to the constellations of Andromeda and Orion, respectively.

I have also calculated the respective areas for these subconstellations and now show the redistribution graphically. Here this becomes 88+32=120 constellations including subconstellations, or by divided Serpens, 89+32=121 constellations including these subconstellations.


Table 5. Useful Subconstellations


No.

Subconstellation
Partial
Area
sq.deg.

Subconstellation
Partial
Area
sq.deg.
Total
Area
sq.deg.
01Aquarius Orientus xxx.xxx Aquarius Occidensxxx.xxx 979.854
02Boötes Supernus xxx.xxx Boötes Improbusxxx.xxx 906.831
03Camelopardalis Orientus xxx.xxx Camelopardalis Occidensxxx.xxx 756.828
04Centaurus Supernus xxx.xxx Centaurus Improbusxxx.xxx 1060.422
05Cetus Orientus xxx.xxx Cetus Occidensxxx.xxx 1231.411
06Cygnus Orientus xxx.xxx Cygnus Occidensxxx.xxx 803.983
07Draco Orientus xxx.xxx Draco Occidensxxx.xxx 1082.952
08Eridanus Supernus xxx.xxx Eridanus Improbusxxx.xxx 1137.919
09Hercules Supernus xxx.xxx Hercules Improbusxxx.xxx 1225.148
10Hydra Orientus xxx.xxx Hydra Occidensxxx.xxx 1302.844
11Leo Supernus xxx.xxx Leo Improbusxxx.xxx 946.964
12Pegasus Orientus xxxx.xxx Pegasus Occidensxxx.xxx 1120.794
13Puppis Supernus xxx.xxx Puppis Improbusxxx.xxx 673.434
14Sagittarius Orientus xxx.xxx Sagittarius Occidensxxx.xxx 867.432
15Ursa Major Supernus xxx.xxx Ursa Major Improbusxxx.xxx 1279.660
16Virgo Orientus xxx.xxx Virgo Occidensxxx.xxx 1294.428


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