Talk:Astronomical symbols

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Former good article nominee Astronomical symbols was a Natural sciences good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
December 23, 2011 Good article nominee Not listed

Deleted Earth[edit]

Method not specified —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:26, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Crescent Moon is not First Quarter[edit]

The tooltip for the Crescent Moon says "First Quarter" and that for the Decrescent Moon says "Last Quarter". This is wrong. First and last quarters look like half moons and are not the same as crescents. The confusion probably arose because the author thought of quarter as a fraction of the illuminated portion. The word quarter as used by astronomers is really the fraction of an entire lunation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:29, 9 August 2008 (UTC)


  • I see the Unicode rendering for Uranus as having an additional line as compared to the NASA image. (The middle vertical line extends above the horizontal line.) -- Beland 22:18, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
  • I see the Unicode rendering for Earth as a circle with a plus sign on top, but the NASA image has a plus sign inside the circle. -- Beland 22:18, 4 September 2005 (UTC)
  • The astronomical image given for Uranus is not consistent with that given on Uranus article
  • The origins of the glyphs e.g, Venus's mirror, Zeus' thunderbolt are plainly incorrect. The planetary glyphs derived from the first or second letter of the Greek names for the planets. See the addition of the external link.
  • Someone came in and replaced Vesta's symbol (including the one on Vesta's page) with the astrological one and also used an astrological symbol for Chiron.

Expansion request[edit]

Who decides what these symbols are? When were they first used? Are they still in use? -- Beland 22:04, 4 September 2005 (UTC)

I believe the symbols are chosen/maintained by the International Astronomical Union, though I am not sure. A number of them are historical, handed down from the Greco-Romans. Which reminds me, I dispute one of the symbols, see below. --zandperl 22:13, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

I second that, when were they first used, and by whom? Do they originate with the Greeks, or the Greeks borrow them from another civilizations (Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Levant)? Also, i've read these symbols were used to indicate days in some cultures (specifically rural Romania) but again I cannot attest to the veracity of these statements. Any extar info would be greatly appreciated. Arthurian Legend 16:23, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

The earliest known glyphs are for the Sun, Moon and 5 planets. The glyphs for the zodiac seemed to have developed a little later - the earliest I encountered are in the Greek Magical Papyri but these images do not appear anything like the ones that developed into the current form in the Renaissance.
I've been holding off on touching this section until scholarly sources arise. I think Alexander Jones may have addressed this.
I don't know the origin of the following theory, but it was promoted by an astrologer at this site: [1]
The original sun glyph was a circle with a ray shooting out and moon was the crescent. (See [2], as well as ) Both represent the appearance of the lights, Hermes is represented by a caduceus, but the rest of the planet glyphs developed from the Greek letters contained in the name of the planets - Aphrodite - phi, Ares (alpha? or rho? - this one is harder to decipher), Zeus - zeta, Kronos - kappa.
That the planet glyphs derive from Greek letters is consistent with how other important points in a Greek horoscope diagram were abbreviated. Also see [3]. Zeusnoos 13:22, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Correction/Clarification needed[edit]

The symbol for Uranus listed here is a circle with a line and the H, described as being attributed to Herschel. The symbol for Uranus listed on the NASA page is a combination of the Sun and Mars symbols. The symbol listed here should be changed, perhaps updated to show both, and further reference is needed for the H-version of the symbol. -zandperl 22:13, 6 November 2005 (UTC)

Both should definitely be shown. Actually the one with the H (♅) is the one I've seen used the most, actually I had never seen the other previous to coming to this site. The "H" symbol is also the one used in Unicode.

yeah, I can't see most of these. What do I change for them to display again?

This would most probably be a font problem on the system you're using for web browsing. The unicode character reference (U+2645) is correct (see Browser test page for Uranus character. The font that your browser is using for displaying the character (which looks incorrect), as opposed to the image (which looks correct), is supplying the "wrong" character. To fix it, try loading a font like Code2000 (from; this works on my system. I don't think it can be fixed by changing Wikipedia; we probably should assume that some users' browsers won't render the character we expect and therefore we have to show the image as well. If we always show the image (for any ambiguously rendered Unicode character), we'll never be surprised. - Dmacf 17:59, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

Why not including images of the unicode characters for all symbols?
This is a good drawing program: Inkscape. If you have trouble uploading the results, feel free to ask for help. Shinobu 04:29, 13 June 2006 (UTC)

Recommended move[edit]

Page should probably be moved to either Astronomical symbol or List of astronomical symbols. -Silence 01:47, 24 February 2006 (UTC)


How come there are 2 different symbols for Pluto?

Do the new planets like Ceres or "Xena" have a symbol?--Sonjaaa 16:14, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Ceres has a bunch from back when it was discovered in 1801 and was thought of as a new planet before it was demoted. Vesta, Juno, Pallas have them too. GracieLizzie 00:34, 30 August 2006 (UTC)

--- 2060 Chiron also has a symbol that is used in astrology. I'm not sure if astronomers use it or not.


I think that the article should be split into Astrological symbols; there are, as the article says, astrological symbols that are not the same as their corresponding astronomical symbols.100110100 23:07, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. Or the page should be renamed to Astronomical and astrological symbols. -- Jordi· 07:35, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
The Page should be renamed. Most symbols are common to both Astronomy and Astrology, also, Astronomy hardly ever uses symbols anyway, so I'm not sure if the purely Astronomical symbols are worth a page anyway. JamesFox 11:44, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Symbol for Eris[edit]


The symbol for which Eris is known is not the Apple of Discord, but in fact the Five Fingered Hand of Eris (better known just as the Hand of Eris). It is a) in line with the other symbols and glyphs for planets, because it has crescents and lines b) so that it cannot be confused with the symbol for Chiron, which also uses a circle and a "K" already. This matter is under debate at this very moment in a discordian community [4] on livejournal. There is also a petition to whoever officiates these symbols I have also brought this up on the talk page for Eris [5], and have also sent a proposal letter to the discoverer of the planet. --Travlr23 03:55, 18 September 2006 (UTC)

I removed the (K) symbol, as no support has been given that it's under consideration anywhere. (Sadly, I didn't realize I wasn't logged in until after submitting the page.) DenisMoskowitz 13:42, 18 September 2006 (UTC)
The other good thing about the FFHoE symbol is that it has the letter K in it, both backwards and forwards, and it has an "X" in it to represent how the planet used to be called "Xena" - much like the symbol for Uranus has an H in it because it used to be called Herschel. (see, my planetariam teacher, Mr Williams, would be proud that I remembered that!) --Travlr23 01:04, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

Ceres and Unicode[edit]

I noticed that the article specified U+02A1 as the Unicode character for Ceres. I removed it, since U+02A1 is actually LATIN LETTER GLOTTAL STOP WITH STROKE -- it is a phonetic letter, whose resemblance to the Ceres symbol is pure coincidence. There is a proposal to add codepoints for some of the symbols ( see [[6]] ) which passed the first vote in May. JamesFox 11:09, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

It's actually not purely coincidence, since they're both representations of a sickle, but you're right to remove it, since it isn't the symbol for Ceres. Nice work uncovering that proposal.  OzLawyer / talk  12:43, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Asteroid symbols[edit]

In case anyone was wondering, Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta and Chiron were not the only asteroids to receive symbols. This page shows symbols of many of the early discovered asteroids. Good luck to anyone who wants to incorporate them.  OzLawyer / talk  16:52, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Most of those asteroid symbols aren't any more official than the moon symbols I came up with - they're of recent, astrological vintage. However, there are indeed official symbols for 14 of the first 15 asteroids - see this page. DenisMoskowitz 17:55, 4 October 2006 (UTC)

Variations of symbols[edit]

I removed them, and this is why: All the symbols have variants. None are, to my knowledge, official. Neptune may be drawn without the arrowy-bits on the prongs. The curves of Jupiter and Saturn may be significantly different from one representation to the next. The astrological symbol for Uranus may not have the middle prong going up (or, sometimes the circle is up, not down). As for the symbols for all the asteroids recently added, I'm sure if you had original documents you'd see major variations as well.  OzLawyer / talk  13:55, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

However, you removed the original form of the Vesta symbol in favour of a later variant. Adam Cuerden talk 14:22, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Splitting the page up[edit]

Actually, I'd still like to see the page split up. It's named completely wrong, since there are astrological symbols in the article, and it's getting awfully badly organized now that all these new asteroids are being added.


Astronomical symbols has the planets, the moon, the sun, and the asteroids (and Ceres and Pluto). And try to put them all in one table with sub-headings.

Astrological symbols has three sections; the zodiac, "astrological bodies" (including Sun, Moon, planets, and the first four asteroids, including Ceres, and Chiron), and other symbols (ascending node, descending node, etc.)

Oh, and forget about the Unicode symbols bit. They're not articles about Unicode.

 OzLawyer / talk  14:05, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

The Zodiac symbols still are (slightly) relevant to astronomy, though. Adam Cuerden talk 14:23, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
If they're slightly relevant, then give a link to them in the header paragraph. You'd also have links between articles in the "See also" section.  OzLawyer / talk  14:25, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Point. Just I'm leery of linking an astronomical discussion to an astrological one. Perhaps it would be best to do it into three pages: Zodiac symbols, Astrological symbols, and Astronomy symbols? Adam Cuerden talk 15:09, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Well, as we have Zodiac, the creation of just a Zodiac symbols article wouldn't fly. Why, exactly, do you have a problem linking the articles?  OzLawyer / talk  16:53, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Astronomy and astrology are completely different pursuits: Astrology still at least in part depends on a geocentric view in its calculations, and is in the mystical sphere, whereas astronomy depends on up-to-the-minute physics and is in the Scientific sphere. I don't think linking the articles is bad, but to hold up a section of the Astrological symbols up as Astronomically valid seems to be undue mixing of two very different fields, and I'd rather treat any junction as a seperate article, to preserve the division. Adam Cuerden talk 17:00, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Indeed, astrology and astronomy are different. However, I hardly see the issue. Linking to symbols on an astrology page from a page about symbols on astronomy can't really be seen as some sort of endosement of astrology, can it? Anyway, the zodiac page can be linked to itself, so there's no need to link to the astrological symbols in the body of the article (although I guess zodiac would be just as problematic for you), but I'd certainly put it in the "See also" section. They're all symbols for heavenly bodies, one way or another.  OzLawyer / talk  19:18, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Hmm? Zodiac is a perfectly vadid astronomical term. It's the constellations on the line all the planets follow (as seen from earth). How could I object to that? Adam Cuerden talk 19:39, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Because the article itself speaks about astrology?  OzLawyer / talk  22:23, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

Eh, I only really see a problemm with mixing pure-astrology articles with pure astronomy. Astrologists keep coming up with new stuff, and we don't want astronomers being told abouth the symbol for Moonchild if we have an astrology editor of a reforming mind. Mixed articles aren't so bad - the astronomers will keep the astronomy sections relevant, and if they have a bit about astrology at the end, not so bad. But to direct to one section of a page much of which is actively wrong for astronomy symbols... Not a good way to delineate data.

I mean, what would you say: The symbols for the zodiacal signs, as seen on the astrology symbols page, are used in astronomy on occassion. Everything else on that page may contain variant symbols, symbols only ever used in astrology, and other confusion. But have a look at that one relevant section. Adam Cuerden talk 22:50, 6 October 2006 (UTC)

I believe the symbols for "comet", "ascending/descending node" "conjunction", "opposition", etc. are more astronomical than astrological. RandomCritic 20:09, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

I feel the opposite. This page of astrology symbols includes them: [7] and, to be clear, symbols basically aren't used in astronomy at all anymore.  OzLawyer / talk  20:17, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Apparently not on wikipedia, because if you go look up Ascending node, the symbol is used right there. Anyway, even if these symbols are somewhat old or out of date, they still deserve to be included, unless you want to delete the page entirely.RandomCritic 20:37, 11 October 2006 (UTC)
Think the symbols are used more in astrology, but the events are described more often in astronomy, if that makes sense.

Zodiac Symbols[edit]

Okay. I guess I've missed the vague discussion in the talk section above, but now that I've seen that page changes, I feel that I must revert. There are no abstract, Astronomical symbols for all of the constellations. When it comes to constellations located along the zodiac, 12 of the 13 may give thier names to the Astrological Zodiac signs, also known as the house signs, but the symbols do not repersent constellations. They represent 30 degree divisions of the 360 degree circle of astrological longtitude, at least in astrology. I am very doubtful that any astronomical usage comes close in thier extent of use in astrology. JamesFox 13:11, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I reverted before seeing this comment, you are free to revert back. I agree that the zodiac is pretty useless in a collection of astronomical symbols. I therefore do reiterate that this page needs to be split. I'd suggest that the symbols included on the astrological symbols page mirror these. The astronomical symbols article should be sun, moon, planets, dwarf planets, and asteroids.  OzLawyer / talk  14:13, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Aye, but the constellations-pages includ sections on astrology (and Scorpio/us linked to the constellation anyway), so I'd rather send people where there's more information. Adam Cuerden talk 18:51, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

This article is in need of text describing the historical use of astronomical symbols (in general) and there should also be some mention of the astronomical use of zodiac symbols. These symbols have been used in an astronomical context in the past, for instance, by Kepler as show here: Image:Kepler Mars retrograde.jpg. I'll look for some references on usage of the symbols. --mikeu (talk) 16:14, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Zodiac symbols are listed in Allen's Astrophysical Quantities (4th ed) on page 2. --mikeu (talk) 18:20, 10 April 2008 (UTC)
Astrological signs are a valid angular unit of measurement. They are not the same as constellations, so modern astronomers usually don't use them. However: the IAU abbreviations are the correct abbreviations for the constellations; some are different for the signs (and the IAU doesn't use the signs). Also, "Capricornus" and "Scorpius" are names of constellations; "Capricorn" (as in the Tropic of Capricorn, which has no correspondence to the constellation Capricornus) and "Scorpio" are names of signs. Also, the glyphs are never used when refering to constellations; they only correspond to signs. (Actually, astronomers rarely use glyphs at all; however, I have seen the glyphs for Aries and Libra on a diagram of the celestial sphere in a dictionary of physics, and it is clear from the diagram that is corresponds to the signs and not the constellations.) The Herschel glyph for Uranus is probably more commonly used in astrology than in astronomy, although I still prefer it because it is more distinct than the glyph for Mars. I have never seen the Le Verrier glyph. There is also another glyph for Pluto (which I don't use, because it is too similar to the one for Neptune), but I don't know if astronomers ever used it; astrologers sometimes use it though. Since they are glyphs for the same things, I would think it makes sense to combine them into the article, perhaps with footnotes or whatever to specify when they are used and who uses them. --Zzo38 (talk) 05:23, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

Why is Venus pink?[edit]

Why is Venus pink?03:23, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

You got me interested! I did a little investigation and as far as I can tell, it is a caching bug. Back on February 20'th someone on commons changed the color of the commons:Image:Venus_symbol.svg source image. This mild vandalism wasn't reverted for a couple of hours. However, the source image is in SVG format. Because SVG is not widely supported in browsers, the MediaWiki software that runs Wikipedia builds PNG versions from the SVG versions and caches them. Apparently the 25 pixel wide version was cached while the SVG was pink, and has not since been rebuilt. As an example here are the identical image, but one specified to be 25 pixels wide and the other 30 pixels: Venus symbol.svg and Venus symbol.svg. Note that only the 25 pixel version is pink. I'm not sure how to fix this or even who to notify to fix this. —RP88 04:20, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
All fixed now! —RP88 09:49, 1 March 2007 (UTC)

Venus: Mirror or Spirit/Cross?[edit]

The table on this page describes the symbol for Venus as representing "Venus's hand mirror". The page for Venus states: "Alchemists constructed the symbol from a circle (representing spirit) above a cross (representing matter)." Are they both correct somehow, or does one page need changing? -- 04:33, 3 June 2007 (UTC)


Did anyone find an answer for who defines these symbols? I can find nothing on the IAU website about them, and NASA simply display the images without explaining who uses them or where they come from. The page here makes no mention of any controlling authority, and yet the symbol for Eris is "Unlikely to gain an official symbol". What makes a symbol official?? Feyrauth (talk) 01:20, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

Since astronomers have basically given up on using symbols (since they'd need tens of thousands of them) and there is no controlling board of astrologers, symbols are a complete free-for-all. It's possible that if the dwarf planet decision was reversed, public outcry would force someone to deal with the issue. DenisMoskowitz (talk) 14:51, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
That is one reason I still watch astrology-related stuff. I would like them to have symbols, so that is what I do. --Zzo38 (talk) 05:18, 3 June 2013 (UTC)

Unicode Bug[edit]

I found a Unicode bug in the Venus symbol:

Font 4:

Font 6:

-PatPeter 20:18, 24 February 2009 (UTC)

Astrology and Superstition[edit]

Are these symbols still commonly used in the scientific practice of astronomy today? Some of these symbols have been used in astronomy but in eras long in the past and in relation to the "science of the day" -- a.k.a. astrology and other observation of the cosmos in relation to superstitions. These symbols (and many others) were pertinent to science long ago but not really today I don't think. (I could be wrong. If so, please provide sources.) When astronomy for science (cosmology, physics, etc.) split from astrology, the latter retained the symbols. And that should be clearly indicated in the lede. Then there's the issue of corroborating these lesser known symbols. I know the symbols of the planets. Those are quite common. But the lesser known ones (i.e. for asteroids, dwarf planets & other non-planet bodies) need citations to be credulous. It would be helpful to have some indication that they aren't some guy's personal Paintshop creations. They have to be symbols that are actually used widely and have documentation to prove it. But, hey, I really don't know what's real and what's not. I'm speaking from a lay position. So please do bring on the citations. Otherwise, some cleanup is required. ask123 (talk) 03:42, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

I haven't encountered these symbols in professional journals and whatnot, but they are still used in at least some ephemerides and skywatcher calendars. See e.g. the farmers almanac astronomy section. Rwflammang (talk) 01:50, 17 October 2010 (UTC)

Removed from article[edit]

These entries contained unsourced data and/or original research, and were removed. Note that everything I removed remains in the Astrological symbols article.

For Eris, under Symbol represents: Unlikely to gain an official symbol (although there have been a number of proposals,[citation needed] such as the Hand of Eris 50x25px|Eris[original research?])

See the discussion on this page under the heading "Symbol for Eris". A livejournal discussion and an "online petition" do not constitute notability.

For Vesta: 25px|Vesta[citation needed] | #9910;|

Removed because (1) I found no evidence of this symbol ever having being notably (or at all) used by astronomers, and (2) the astronomical symbol that was in common use looks different.

2060 Chiron 25px[citation needed] #9911; proposed but not adopted

Removed because this is an astrological symbol. Described as "an inspiration shared amongst Al H. Morrison, Joelle K.D. Mahoney, and Marlene Bassoff", it was presented to the astrological community in 1977 in the CAO Times, vol. 3, p. 57, and appears to have been adopted nearly universally by astrologers.

asteroid 25px[citation needed] proposed but not adopted

Removed because this symbol was not adopted.

Conjunction 50x25px[citation needed] Proposal; undefined
Meteor 50x25px[citation needed] Proposal; undefined
Meteor shower 50x25px[citation needed] Proposal; undefined
Asteroid 50x25px[citation needed] Proposal; undefined

I'm not sure what to make of these four symbols, except to say that they are all unsourced, the conjunction symbol is definitely unlike the standard one, and the description page on each of these images appears to refer to fortune-telling.

If you find a source attesting to any of this material in an astronomical (not astrological) context, feel free to put it back in the article with a citation. (talk) 03:11, 9 March 2010 (UTC); 22:41, 17 May 2010 (UTC)


Some of the "Unicode" entries in the tables were in decimal, others in hexadecimal. Changing all these cells to show both, on two lines. The standard notation

  • hex.: #x...;
  • dec.: #...; (with no "x")

distinguishes them.

I used this Perl script after confirming that it would catch all and only the table cells I wanted.

    if (($x,$n) = (/#(x?)([0-9a-f]+);/i) and !/Unicode/i) {
        s/^\|\#/| #/;
        if($x) { # hex, conv to dec
            $dec = hex($n);
            $hex = $n;
        else { # dec, conv to hex
            $hex = sprintf("%x",$n);
            $dec = $n;

Thnidu (talk) 22:09, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Symbol for Earth[edit]

I'm replacing the symbol U+2295 ⊕ with U+1F728 🜨. The former is a mathematical operator which, depending on the font used, may be rendered too small. Additionally the plus does not necessarily touch the circle. In the Unicode standard U+2295 cross-references U+1F728, an alchemical symbol with the annotation "= early astronomical symbol for earth". So this seems to be the right character. Oracle of Truth (talk) 18:10, 3 June 2011 (UTC)

But U+1F728 🜨 (ALCHEMICAL SYMBOL FOR VERDIGRIS) isn't in many (most?) fonts. It's in the Unicode 6.2 chart Alchemical Symbols, which are, face it, not very much in demand compared with the Mathematical Operators, which is where U+2295 CIRCLED PLUS is. So I suspect that most readers will just see "�", or
inside a box, instead of the symbol.
I've replaced the alchemical symbol with the mathematical operator on Astrological symbols, with discussion referenced from the edit summary. I was going to do the same here. But since the topic is already under discussion I'll leave it alone, with this note for any future work on it. --Thnidu (talk) 16:10, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

Untrue that all these symbols have fallen into disuse in scientific publications[edit]

Small mod this, but: the Sun and (to a lesser extent) Earth symbols are in frequent use in current astronomical papers and textbooks (e.g. L for solar luminosity) so I've slightly changed the introductory text to reflect this. EqualMusic (talk) 08:22, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]


for dead URLs

This review is transcluded from Talk:Astronomical symbols/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Jezhotwells (talk · contribs) 23:00, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

This article has been rated as list class by three projects for several years, so does not qualify for good article status, please see WP:WIAGA. You might wish to consider nominating at Featured list candidates, but please read the Wikipedia:Featured list criteria first. Jezhotwells (talk) 23:00, 23 December 2011 (UTC)

Chiron Symbol[edit]

I don't know how to edit this, but I think 2060 Chiron may be on the list too. Unicode Character 'CHIRON' (U+26B7) Sailorsun (talk) 19:34, 11 February 2012 (UTC)