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HandWiki. Former Constellation. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 17 April 2024).
HandWiki. Former Constellation. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 17, 2024.
HandWiki. "Former Constellation" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 17, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, November 05). Former Constellation. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Former Constellation." Encyclopedia. Web. 05 November, 2022.
Former Constellation

Former constellations are old historical Western constellations that for various reasons are no longer widely recognised or are not officially recognised by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Prior to 1930, many of these defunct constellations were traditional in one or more countries or cultures. Some only lasted decades but others were referred to over many centuries. All are now recognised only for having classical or historical value. Many former constellations had complex Latinised names after objects, people, or mythological or zoological creatures. Others with unwieldy names were shortened for convenience. For example, Scutum Sobiescianum was reduced to Scutum, Mons Mensae to Mensa, and Apparatus Sculptoris to Sculptor. Some of the Northern Sky's former constellations were placed in the less populated regions between the traditional brighter constellations just to fill gaps. In the Southern Sky, new constellations were often created from about the 15th century by voyagers who began journeying south of the Equator. European countries like England, France, the Netherlands, German or Italian states, etc., often supported and popularised their own constellation outlines. In some cases, different constellations occupied overlapping areas and included the same stars. These former constellations are often found in older books, star charts, or star catalogues. The 88 modern constellation names and boundaries were standardised by Eugene Delporte for the IAU in 1930, under an international agreement, removing any possible astronomical ambiguities between astronomers from different countries. Nearly all former or defunct constellations differ in their designated boundaries in as much as they have outlines that do not follow the exact lines of right ascension and declination.

declination ascension equator

1. Noteworthy Former Constellations

1.1. Argo Navis

Argo Navis is the only constellation from Ptolemy's original list of 48 constellations that is no longer officially recognized. Due to its large size, it was split into three constellations by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille: Carina (the keel), Puppis (the poop deck), and Vela (the sails).[1] The new constellations were introduced in the 1763 star catalog Coelum Australe Stelliferum, which was published soon after de Lacaille's death.

1.2. Quadrans Muralis

Quadrans Muralis was originally created in 1795, placed in the northern skies between the still-accepted constellations Boötes and Draco. The Quadrantids meteor shower is named after this former constellation.

1.3. Remnant Nomenclature

  • 53 Eridani retains the name Sceptrum from the former constellation Sceptrum Brandenburgicum.[2]

2. List of Former Constellations

Name Pronunciation Genitive Meaning Date created Created by
Anguilla /æŋˈɡwɪlə/ Anguillae Eel 1754 John Hill
Antinous /ænˈtɪnəs/ Antinoi Antinous 0132 132 Emperor Hadrian[3]
Apes   Apium Bees (renamed to Vespa, then Lilium, then to Musca Borealis) 1612 Petrus Plancius
Apis /ˈpɪs/ Apis Bee (obsolete name and renamed to Musca Australis, and then shortened to Musca) 1598 Petrus Plancius
Aranea /əˈrniə/ Araneae Long-Legged Spider 1754 John Hill
Argo Navis /ˈɑːrɡ ˈnvɪs/ Argus Navis The Ship Argo (now divided into Carina, Puppis, and Vela) 0160 2nd century Claudius Ptolemy
Asselli and Praesepe   Assellorum, Praesepis Dionysus's Asses (Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis) and Manger (Beehive Cluster) -300 3rd century BC Aratus[4][5]
Asterion and Chara     Northern and Southern Dogs in Canes Venatici 1690 Johannes Hevelius.[6]
Battery of Volta     Battery 1807 Thomas Young
Bufo /ˈbjuːf/ Bufonis Toad 1754 John Hill
Cancer Minor /ˈkænsərˈmnər/ Cancri Minoris Lesser Crab 1613 Petrus Plancius
Capra and Haedi   Caprae, Haedorum Goat Amalthea (stars surrounding Capella) and the Kids (Haedus I and Haedus II) -300 3rd century BC Aratus[7]
Cerberus /ˈsɜːrbərəs/ Cerberi Cerberus (guardian dog of Hades) 1690 Johannes Hevelius
Cor Caroli Regis Martyris   Cordis Caroli Charles's Heart 1673 Charles Scarborough
Corona Firmiana   Coronae Firmianae Corona Borealis renamed to honor Count Leopold Anton von Firmian 1730 Corbinianus Thomas
Custos Messium /ˈkʌstɒs ˈmɛʃiəm/ Custodis Messium Keeper of harvests 1775 Jérôme Lalande[8]
Deltoton     Delta (obsolete name for Triangulum Boreale) 1540 Petrus Apianus[9]
Dentalium /dɛnˈtliəm/ Dentalii Tooth Shell 1754 John Hill
Felis /ˈflɪs/ Felis Cat 1799 Jérôme Lalande
Frederici Honores /frɛdəˈrs hɒˈnɔːrz/ Frederici Honorum Frederick's Honors 1787 Johann Elert Bode[10]
Gallus /ˈɡæləs/ Galli Rooster 1613 Petrus Plancius
Gladii Electorales Saxonici   Gladiorum Electoralium Saxonicorum Crossed Swords of the Electorate of Saxony 1684 Gottfried Kirch
Globus Aerostaticus /ˈɡlbəs ˌɛərəˈstætɪkəs/ Globi Aerostatici Hot air balloon 1798 Jérôme Lalande[11]
Gryphites /ɡrɪˈftz/ Gryphitis Gryphaea shellfish 1754 John Hill
Hippocampus /hɪpəˈkæmpəs/ Hippocampi Sea Horse 1754 John Hill
Hirudo /hɪˈrd/ Hirudinis Leech 1754 John Hill
Jordanus /ɔːrˈdnəs/ Jordani River Jordan 1613 Petrus Plancius
Leo Palatinus   Leonis Palatini Lion to honor the Elector Palatine Charles Theodore and his wife Elisabeth Auguste 1785 Karl-Joseph König
Lochium Funis /ˈlɒkiəm ˈfjuːnɪs/ Lochii Funis Log line (renamed Linea Nautica in 1888 by Eliza A. Bowen[12]) 1801 Johann Elert Bode[13]
Lilium /ˈlɪliəm/ Lilii Fleur de Lys (renamed Musca Borealis) 1679 Augustin Royer/P. Anthelme
Limax /ˈlmæks/ Limacis Slug 1754 John Hill
Linum Piscium   Lini Piscium The line connecting the fish (renamed from Linum Austrinum and Linum Boreum by Bode in 1801; known as Lineola too) 1590 Thomas Hood
Lumbricus /lʌmˈbrkəs/ Lumbrici Earthworm 1754 John Hill
Machina Electrica /ˈmækɪnə ɪˈlɛktrɪkə/ Machinae Electricae Electricity generator 1800 Johann Elert Bode[14]
Malus /ˈmləs/ Mali Mast 1844 John Herschel
Manis /ˈmnɪs/ Manis Pangolin 1754 John Hill
Marmor Sculptile   Marmoris Sculptilis Bust of Columbus 1810 William Croswell
Mons Maenalus /ˈmɒnz ˈmɛnələs/ Montis Maenali Mount Mainalo 1690 Johannes Hevelius[15]
Musca Borealis /ˈmʌskə bɔːriˈlɪs/ Muscae Borealis Northern Fly 1690 Johannes Hevelius
Noctua /ˈnɒktjuə/ Noctuae Owl 1822 Alexander Jamieson
Nubecula Major and Nubecula Minor   Nubeculae Majoris, Nubeculae Minoris Magellanic Clouds 1603 Johann Bayer
Officina Typographica /ˌɒfɪˈsnə tpəˈɡræfɪkə/ Officinae Typographicae Printshop 1801 Johann Elert Bode[16]
Patella /pəˈtɛlə/ Patellae Limpet 1754 John Hill
Phoenicopterus /ˌfɛnəˈkɒptərəs/ Phoenicopteri Flamingo (an obsolete name for Grus) 1610 early 17th century

[17] || Petrus Plancius/Paul Merula

Pinna Marina /ˈpɪnə məˈrnə/ Pinnae Marinae Mussel 1754 John Hill
Piscis Notus   Piscis Noti Southern Fish (obsolete name for Piscis Austrinus) -300 3rd century BC Aratus
Polophylax /pəˈlɒfɪlæks/ Polophylacis Guardian of the Pole 1592 Petrus Plancius
Pomum Imperiale   Pomi Imperialis Leopold's orb 1688 Gottfried Kirch
Phaethon   Phaethontis Phaethon 1300 Middle Ages Aratus/Hyginus
Pluteum   Plutei Parapet (obsolete for Pictor) 1881 Richard Andree
Psalterium Georgii /sælˈtɪəriəm ˈɔːri/ Psalterii Georgii George's Psaltery (renamed to Harp Georgii by Lalande) 1781 Maximilian Hell[18]
Quadrans Muralis /ˈkwdrænz mjʊəˈrlɪs/ Quadrantis Muralis Mural Quadrant 1795 Jérôme Lalande[19]
Quadratum   Quadrati Rhombus (obsolete name for Reticulum Rhomboidalis) 1706 Carel Allard
Ramus Pomifer /ˈrməs ˈpɒmɪfər/ Rami Pomiferi Apple-bearing Branch 1690 Johannes Hevelius[20]
Robur Carolinum /ˈrbər kærəˈlnəm/ Roboris Carolini Charles' Oak 1679 Edmund Halley[21]
Rosa   Rosae Rose 1536 Petrus Apianus
Sagitta Australis   Sagittae Australis Southern Arrow 1613 Petrus Plancius
Scarabaeus /skærəˈbəs/ Scarabaei Rhinoceros Beetle 1754 John Hill
Sceptrum Brandenburgicum /ˈsɛptrəm ˌbrændənˈbɜːrɪkəm/ Sceptri Brandenburgici Scepter of Brandenburg 1688 Gottfried Kirch[22]
Sceptrum et Manus Iustitiae /ˈsɛptrəm ɛt ˈmnəs əˈstɪʃii/ Sceptri et Manus Iustitiae Scepter and Hand of Justice 1679 Augustin Royer
Sciurus Volans   Sciuri Volantis Flying Squirrel (now part of Camelopardalis) 1810 William Croswell[23]
Sextans Uraniae   Sextantis Uraniae Urania's Sextant (obsolete name for Sextans) 1690 Johannes Hevelius
Siren, Ceneus and Lang     Siren, Lapith Caeneus and Toucan 1600 early 17th century

[24] || Unknown/Willem Jansz Blaeu

Solarium /səˈlɛəriəm/ Solarii Sundial 1822 Alexander Jamieson
Sudarium Veronicae   Sudarii Veronicae Sudarium of Veronica 1643 Antoine Marie Schyrle de Rheita[25]
Tarandus or Rangifer /təˈrændəs, ˈrænɪfər/ Tarandi, Rangiferi Reindeer 1736 Pierre Charles Lemonnier[26]
Taurus Poniatovii /ˈtɔːrəs pɒniəˈtvi/ Tauri Poniatovii Poniatowski's Bull 1777 Martin Poczobut[27]
Tarabellum and Vexillum   Tarabelli, Vexilli Drill and flag-like Standard 1100 12th century Michael Scot[28]
Telescopium Herschelii /tɛlɪˈskpiəm hərˈʃli/ Telescopii Herschelii Herschel's Telescope (renamed from Tubus Herschelii Major by Bode in 1801) 1781 Maximilian Hell[29]
Tubus Herschelii Minor   Tubi Herschelii Minoris Herschel's Reflector 1781 Maximilian Hell
Testudo /tɛsˈtjd/ Testudinis Tortoise 1754 John Hill
Tigris /ˈtɡrɪs/ Tigridis Tigris River 1613 Petrus Plancius
Triangulus Antarcticus   Trianguli Antarctici Obsolete name for Triangulum Australe 1589 Peter Plancius
Triangulum Majus   Trianguli Majoris Large Triangle (obsolete name for Triangulum) 1690 Johannes Hevelius
Triangulum Minus /trˈæŋɡjʊləm ˈmnəs/ Trianguli Minoris Small Triangle 1690 Johannes Hevelius[30]
Turdus Solitarius /ˈtɜːrdəs sɒlɪˈtɛəriəs/ Turdi Solitarii Solitary Thrush (renamed to Mocking Bird and then to Noctua). Named in honor of the Rodrigues solitaire, an extinct flightless bird related to the dodo. 1776 Pierre Charles Lemonnier[31]
Uranoscopus /jʊərəˈnɒskəpəs/ Uranoscopi Star-Gazer fish 1754 John Hill
Urna   Urnae Urn of Aquarius 1596 Zacharias Bornmann
Vespa /ˈvɛspə/ Vespae Wasp (an obsolete name for Musca Borealis) 1624 Jakob Bartsch[32]
Triangula, Triangulum, Catuli, Corona, Corolla, Piscis, Camelus, Vulpes, Equus, Delphin, Ursa Minor, Canis, Felis, Leaena and Cervus   Triangulae, Trianguli, Catulorum, Coronae, Corollae, Piscis, Cameli, Vulpis, Equi, Delphinis, Ursae Minoris, Canis, Felis, Leaenae, Cervi Obsolete names for Triangulum Boreale, Triangulum Australe, Canes Venatici, Corona Borealis, Corona Australis, Piscis Australis, Cameleopardalis, Vulpecula et Anser, Equuleus, Delphinus, Ursa Major, Ursa Minor, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Leo Minor and Monoceros 1873 Richard Proctor[33]


  1. "Star Tales – Argo Navis". 
  2. Barentine, John C. (2015). The Lost Constellations: A History of Obsolete, Extinct, or Forgotten Star Lore. New York, New York: Springer. p. 365. ISBN 9783319227955. 
  3. Allen 1963, p. 40.
  4. "Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 30.djvu/774 - Wikisource, the free online library". 
  5. "Star Tales – Cancer". 
  6. Ridpath, Ian. "Canes Venatici". Star Tales. 
  7. "AMALTHEA (Amaltheia) - Goat Nurse of Zeus in Greek Mythology". 
  8. Allen 1963, p. 191.
  9. "Astrocultura UAI - Unione Astrofili Italiani- Sezione Mitologia Costellazioni estinte obsolete". 
  10. Allen 1963, p. 221.
  11. Allen 1963, p. 237.
  12. "Astrocultura UAI - Unione Astrofili Italiani- Sezione Mitologia Costellazioni estinte obsolete". 
  13. Allen 1963, p. 65.
  14. Allen 1963, p. 289.
  15. Allen 1963, p. 290.
  16. Allen 1963, p. 297.
  17. "Star Tales – Grus". 
  18. Allen 1963, p. 347.
  19. Allen 1963, p. 348.
  20. Allen 1963, p. 242.
  21. Allen 1963, p. 349.
  22. Allen 1963, p. 360.
  23. Kanas, Nick (2007). Star maps: history, artistry, and cartography. New York, New York: Springer. p. 131. ISBN 978-0-387-71668-8. 
  24. Gent, R.H. van. "A Pair of Puzzling Star Maps and Two Unknown Constellations". 
  25. "Astrocultura UAI - Unione Astrofili Italiani- Sezione Mitologia Costellazioni estinte obsolete". 
  26. Allen 1963, p. 377.
  27. Allen 1963, p. 413.
  28. "Nuova pagina 1". 
  29. Allen 1963, p. 414.
  30. Allen 1963, p. 417.
  31. Allen 1963, p. 418.
  32. Allen 1963, p. 292.
  33. "Nuova pagina 1". 
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