From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Astronomy / Astronomical objects / Constellations  (Rated C-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon Constellation is within the scope of WikiProject Astronomy, which collaborates on articles related to Astronomy on Wikipedia.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by WikiProject Astronomical objects, which collaborates on articles related to astronomical objects.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by the Constellations taskforce, which collaborates on articles related to the constellations.

Galaxy vs Constellation[edit]


This excellent article has no mentioning of the term "galaxy". I suggest clarifying the differences between the galaxy and the constellation in this article. I would explore discussion of several specific constellations that include known and familiar stars from various galaxies in the celestial sphere.

Kind Regards,

David George, USA —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:07, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Traditional names[edit]

Other stars have traditional names: for example, Barnard's star is named after its discoverer; Algol has an Arabic name meaning 'the ghoul' and an IAU name β-Persei; and the Pole Star has a common English name, a Latin name, Polaris and an IAU name α-Ursae Minoris. There are companies that purport to name obscure stars after paying customers, but these names are recognized by nobody except the registering company and the customer, and there is nothing to stop two companies from claiming the same star, or even one company from registering the same star to two customers.

I've moved the above from the article because it doesn't have anything to do with constellations. We have an article on star names, currently called Star designation (although I'm not sure that's the best name for it). Some of the above could probably be moved there. --Zundark 15:37 Mar 6, 2003 (UTC)

names and designations[edit]

I changed the title of the section Star names to Constellation names and star designations. Is this petit-maitre-ic pedantry? Well, maybe, but I was confused, since by reading "Star names" I interpreted "Zuben-el-Genubi, Sirius, Rotanev, Adhafera and the like...". That's what's called Traditional names above. I propose the distinctions:

  • Star designations: a noun construction according to one of the patterns:
    • greek letter + constellation genitive, ex.: Alpha Centauri,
    • number + constellation genitive, ex.: 61 Cygni,
    • roman small letter + constellation genitive, ex.: b Leonis (= 60 Leonis) – rarely used,
    • roman capital letter before R + constellation genitive, ex.: A Leonis (= 31 Leonis) – rarely used,
    • roman capital letter from R to Z + constellation genitive, ex.: R Coronae Borealis – for variable stars,
    • two roman capital letters + constellation genitive, ex.: TX Piscium – for variable stars,
    • V immediatelly followed by a number larger than 334 + constellation genitive, ex.: V389 Cygni – for variable stars,
  • Star names:
    • traditional unique names which have traditions from before 1600: ex.: Sirius, Denebola, Betelgeuse,
    • celestial cartographers inventions: ex.: Cor Caroli, Rotanev,
    • modern astronomer research namings: ex.: Garnet Star (Mu Cephei), La Superba (Y Canum Venaticorum), Bessel's Star (61 Cygni), Pistol Star, Barnard's Star, etc.."
  • Catalogue numbers: ex.: HD 206774, HIP 96459, etc..

Am I right, or wrong?? Rursus declamavi; 12:26, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Patterns in constellations[edit]

Constellations are recognized not only by their patterns, but also by the bright stars in them. Is there any page that lists both the constellations and their prominent stars (or vice versa). I found individual stars and constellations lists, but not a page that has got both lists, maybe as a table. Jay 20:53, Sep 17, 2003 (UTC)


(moved from article):

A WikiProject aiming to provide a standardized template to all the articles of the constellations is being developed. Please visit WikiProject Constellations for more details.

Any idea what User: is doing with his warnfiles and why is User:Jiang reverting him. Jay 07:50, 7 Jan 2004 (UTC)

If somebody is interested, a great bunch of constellations mythological drawing are available within the GPL program stellarium. Also shots can be obtained using stellarium to provide nice visuals.

alpha, beta designations in constellations[edit]

Will someone knowledgeable please include in the article the meaning of the designations of some stars in a constellation as "alpha", "beta", etc? I'm guessing it has to do with the observed brightness of the star ("alpha" being brightest). Articles about specific constellations mention these designations without defining them.

That's exactly it, right down the greek alphabet.Sfahey 03:31, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

non-western constellations[edit]

Native Americans have a belief about the interaction between generations of families that encompasses the width and breadth of the present and the depth of time. They refer to it as Constellation. Here's hoping someone who knows more about it will treat this additional definition.

Any discussions of Arabic constellations, and others? -GOD

Hmm, maybe such a section is needed, but Arabic constellations pretty much equals antiquity constellations, and our constellations are Arabic constellations – the Arab high culture preserved most of our information from the antiquity, while it was lost in the West. Most traditional star names are garbled Arabic noun phrases that was originally translated from greek. Rursus declamavi; 11:45, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Actually, the pre-Islamic nomadic Arabian constellations were not the same as the Mesopotamian, Greek, and Ptolemaic constellations. For instance there was a gigantic lion, Al-Asad, covering much of the sky. There were also a number of smaller asterisms. The head of Cetus was a Hand, the tail was a Necklace, and the part in the middle were Ostriches. So, if there are sources on these, it would be nice to have a section in the article. - Parsa (talk) 04:53, 6 February 2009 (UTC)
the Arabic constellations of the middle ages is the same Greece constellations, but i don`t know about the pre-Islamic. however, there is a many asterisms in the Arabic culture, for example, there is in Orion a 3 asterisms (the belt, the sword, and the bow), also there is a 4 in Ursa Major. Al-Sufi book, "the fixed stars", is a good source for the asterisms, but for a general section about the asterisms in the Arabic culture i don`t know if it will be useful --Abbad Dira (talk) 20:31, 14 July 2010 (UTC).

Astrology sign people lists.[edit]

I noticed a growing list at Sagittarius of "Some famous Sagittariuses". Is there agreement on reverting these edits, since they're as arbitrary as lists of "Buddhists born in the month of Nisan of any year"? — Jeandré, 2005-04-11t16:23z

For the matter of peaceful coexistence with those astrologers, such items should be moved to the astrology pages. Since astrology is a hot potato for most scientifically minded people, it would be recommedable to make a {{main|Zodiacal-Constellation (astrology)}} link in the Myth section of each Zodiacal-Constellation. This would be a polite protection for those astrology minded people searching their myth, from a few "science" fundamentalist fringe hunters. Rursus declamavi; 11:55, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Constellations: "named after" _____?[edit]

It seems wrong to describe constellations as being "named after" mythological figures. Weren't the ancients more like believing they were somehow "up there" when they designated the names? Sure, you name a car after some engineer or long-lost hero, but shouldn't constellations be said to "represent" someone or something instead? Dr. Pedant Sfahey 03:26, 24 June 2006 (UTC)

Planets in the constellations[edit]

I would like to start Headline text called "Planets". It will be a list of all the planets found in that said constellation. I'll start with Capricornus, Horologium, & Lyra to show you what it would look like, & to see if you like it. — Hurricane Devon (Talk) 18:47, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

I think "Extrasolar planet(s)" would be a better section title. — Jeandré, 2005-10-22t14:01z
I've added an exoplanets section to the Lyra page as an experiment. I think this makes sense as a standard addition to constellation pages, but I want to wait to see how the experiment works here before adding similar sections for other constellations. AldaronT/C 01:22, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
Also added for Cygnus. AldaronT/C 17:35, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Star Maps -- could do better?[edit]

I think that the star maps shown on the individual constellation pages could be drawn better. The use of black on white is totally confusing and the asterisms (patterns drawn here in green) are completely arbitrary. Might I suggest maps similar to (if not taken from) the book Collins Gem Stars (2004/5 edition).** They use better coloration: white on blue with brightest stars in true colour e.g. Betelgeux red, Capella yellow etc. Also they use the official asterisms recommended by the IAU which are based on what the constellations actually look like.
**I do not know the ISBN as I can't find the book.
Gee Eight, 19:51 UTC, 13 Dec 2005

Probably ISBN 0007178581. I have the 2000 edition (ISBN 0-00-472474-7) illustrated by Wil Tirion: which is white on blue (darkest blue inside const. borders, lightest blue for Milky way), with yellow dashed const. borders, yellow connecting lines of main BD stars.
My Cambridge guide to the constellations 1995 (ISBN 0-521-44921-9) is black on white like WP's, and if we replace the WP images with white on blue we should keep the black on whites for printing. — Jeandré, 2005-12-17t11:55z

Could someone add a complete sky map for the Greek constellation system to this article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Skysong263 (talkcontribs) 03:45, 9 July 2010 (UTC)

"Improper" usage?[edit]

The article states: "The term is also often used, incorrectly, to denote a group of stars visibly related to each other in a particular configuration or pattern." While the term can refer to the IAU bounded regions, I think that the other usage is a valid one as well. The Oxford Dictionary defines a constellation as "a group of stars forming a recognizable pattern that is traditionally named after its apparent form or identified with a mythological figure." Perhaps the article should be altered to recognize these as two different, but equally valid, usages. --Piquan 03:19, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

I think the opening paragraph is trying to say that asterisms are not constellations. My Pocket Oxford doesn't have your def, how old, and what version is your Ox? The modern def is area, while the old ones were the patterns certain stars made. -- Jeandré, 2006-02-10t19:25z
New Oxford American Dictionary, 2/e, May 2005. I only quoted the relevant passage; the full definition includes the definition as area in the next sentence: "Modern astronomers divide the sky into eighty-eight constellations with defined boundaries." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language/4e (2000) also recognizes the dual definition. Let me be clear about the terminology, as I understand it. As I'm using the terms, "constellation" can refer to either the 88 recognized star patterns, or the areas bounded that enclose them. "Asterism" refers to a star pattern that is not one of those 88, such as the Big Dipper. The opening paragraph of the entry on asterism (as well as the definition in the dictionaries I quoted) also seem to support my interpretations. The sentence which I quoted originally, from the current Constellation article, would seem to imply (at least how I read it) that the only valid definition is the bounded areas, and (presumably) that all star patterns are asterisms. -- Piquan 02:22, 11 February 2006 (UTC)
"The modern def is area, while the old ones were the patterns certain stars made." Then perhaps that's (more or less) what it should say? The current phrasing is better than what Piquan seems to be quoting, but I think a bit more mention of the historical use of the term belongs in the intro, although it should certainly be made clear what the modern definition is. I'm going to think about possible ways to phrase this that will (hopefully) satisfy everyone. Including historians as well as astronomers. Xtifr tälk 18:38, 7 October 2006 (UTC)

Communist Constellations?[edit]

What exactly does the communist manifesto have to do with constellations?

As far as I know: nothing at all. But on the other hand, Karl Marx created the communist manifesto, and Groucho Marx was a movie star, so ... Twirling his moustaches, does: Rursus 13:30, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

what is a constellation?

Linguistically an ordered collection of stars. By convention an officially recognized area on heaven containing stars and such a conventional ordering. Twirling his moustaches, does: Rursus 13:30, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Messy navigation boxes[edit]

I hereby declare the constellation navigation boxes being messy (alt. foobared depending on general degree of geekiness). This I do in order to warn for my own future havocing them to look more alike. Twirling his moustaches, does: Rursus 13:45, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

In (the very rare and unthinkable) case anyone would care, the havoc-transmogrification is ongoing. Rursus declamavi; 19:07, 14 February 2007 (UTC)

Not real?[edit]

I strongly object to the first sentence: "First, a constellation is NOT real." Constellations are, in fact real. They do exist. I believe the point the author of this is trying to make is that stars are not, in fact, set in some sort of pattern that looks like picture to us. The definition of constellation is about the stars' relations to each other in the mind of the viewer. Saying they're not real is like saying dreams are not real. While a dream is not reality, dreams do exist: the dreamer does actually have a dream, which I'm sure most of us can attest to. Someone needs to rewrite this line to better explain. I have reverted the recent change, which I just noticed it was very recent, but if this problem persists, or Wasangtse wants to know why, here it is. Garnet Avi 04:17, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Moving new text for discussion[edit]

The following text was added recently, under the heading of "Notes":

  • In three-dimensional space, most of the stars we see have little or no relation to one another, but can appear to be grouped on the celestial sphere of the night sky.
  • A star pattern may be widely known but may not be recognized by the International Astronomical Union; such a pattern of stars is called an asterism. An example is the grouping called the Big Dipper (North America) or the Plough (UK).
  • The stars in a constellation or asterism rarely have any astrophysical relationship to each other; they just happen to appear close together in the sky as viewed from Earth and typically lie many light-years apart in space. However, one exception to this is the Ursa Major moving group.

I've moved it here so that it can be assessed, cited, and better incorporated into the article. Thoughts? --Ckatzchatspy 09:17, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

Changing usage[edit]

I note that the arrangement of satellites (and/or their orbits) particularly for GPS is now being referred to as a "GPS constellation". Perhaps the lead sentence of the article could be modified to reflect this by referring to "heavenly bodies" then "typically stars" and another sentence somewhere making note of GPS (and perhaps other (navigational) satellite) usage of the term. Regards, (talk) 07:37, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

I made the slightest change to the first lead in intro line to suit. Regards, (talk) 07:50, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
Added man-made satellite sentence. Done. Intro section still too long though and should go into a new section on history or something... (talk) 08:11, 19 August 2008 (UTC)
The first para needs to be radically changed. A constellation is a fixed area of sky, defined by the IAU. Star patterns don't come into it these days. The usage of the term "constellation" for clusters of satellites is surely just generic and doesn't require definition here. Skeptic2 (talk) 11:17, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

Reference section[edit]

The reference section, though well designed, is massive compared to the article. Much of this should really be in separate articles rather than serving as a reference to constellations. - Parsa (talk) 04:59, 6 February 2009 (UTC)

I agree. It is somewhat bizarre to find a references section that forms so much of an article.—RJH (talk) 18:34, 1 October 2009 (UTC)
The reference section is probably more useful if it is moved to the article amateur astronomy AstroLynx (talk) 07:42, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
Actually the reference section would be more useful if it was for the most part deleted. Wikipedia is not a directory nor is it a "how-to" to help people observe Constellations. This is just one giant Further reading section. It should contain "a reasonable number of recommended publications that do not appear elsewhere in the article and were not used to verify article content" WP:FURTHERREADING. This is way over the top. Lets use them in-line or dump them. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 16:19, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Did a quick cleanup for obvious WP:NOTDIRECTORY and WP:NOTHOWTO. Could use more.Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 17:09, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I have taken common sense WP:BRD at the article since there were obvious non-encyclopedic reference sections such as the directory of magazines, list of mechanical Planispheres, and "how-to" references (Wikipedia would never contain how-to material). What remains was converted into "Further reading". If there were any obvious overall references, other editors can create that section and move the relevant listing into it. It looks to me like what the article needs now is expansion with inline cites since it is missing allot of descriptive information such as a comprehensive history of how these names came about. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 19:59, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Adverts for astrological societies[edit]

I removed a biased and unreferenced paragraph that appeared to be an advert for an astrological society, who claimed to have discovered an, as yet, unidentified phenomenon in the region of the Andromeda galaxy. The relevant section has been reverted to a state prior to the inclusion of the advert c. early December 2009. I would suggest watching this page for future vandalism of a similar sort.
Spectral Diagram (talk) 05:02, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

differences between North and South hemispheres[edit]

would the southern hemisphere have completely different constellations than the northern? If so, is there any data or starmaps on them? Murakumo-Elite (talk) 05:06, 4 January 2010 (UTC)

Not quite. There's some overlap between the constellations of both hemispheres, and how much continuity entirely depends on the location of the observer. I would suggest downloading Stellarium, - it's a free star map, and if you modify/enable certain settings you'll be able to see whichever constellations are visible from your location. Spectral Diagram (talk) 03:17, 3 February 2010 (UTC)

Should Indian astrology appear here?[edit]

Should Indian astrology appear on this page about astronomical constellations? Moriori (talk) 03:08, 17 February 2011 (UTC)

AFAIK, no. Removed. — kwami (talk) 06:57, 17 February 2011 (UTC)


I have performed some corrections in the article, but I noticed an error that I couldn´t correct. In the section IAU constellations, the text says "Out of the 88 modern constellations, 31 lie predominantly in the northern sky, and the other 58 predominantly in the southern." I hence request the experts in the area to correct this inconsistency in the numbers. Claudio M Souza (talk) 01:56, 14 October 2011 (UTC)

Nobody made any comment on my request above, but I could find in List of constellations by area that the numbers in the article were really wrong - or, at least, different from another article in WP. So I made the correction in order to keep both articles coherent: 52 southern and 36 northern constellations. Claudio M Souza (talk) 22:09, 8 November 2011 (UTC)