Restored Constellation Star Catalog

by John P. Pratt
22 Jun 2017
©2017 by John P. Pratt. All rights Reserved.

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A free downloadable catalog of the stars in the ancient original 48 constellations is now available in standard spreadsheet format.

A free downloadable spreadsheet of a proposed list of 978 stars (counting doubles as one) in the ancient original 48 constellations is now available by clicking the above "Download" link. It is built on the foundation of my previously released Mag 5 Star Catalog combined with the Ptolemy Star Catalog and also my best attempt to restore what even the ancient Greeks had deleted or modified.

ABright Star (HR) Number
BStar Number
CConstellation Name
DStar Number
ELocation in Figure (Ptolemy)
FMultiple Entry
GPtolemy Constellation Number
HDouble Star Component
IMy Name for the star
JRef. for my Star Name
KMy English Name for Star
LLunar Mansion Number
MStar ID
NBayer (Greek letter) ID
OOfficial IAU Star Name
PVisual Magnitude (V)
QSidereal Longitude
RSidereal Day
S30° zodiac sector
TDegrees into 30° zodiac sector
Table 1. Spreadsheet Columns
Table 1 lists the spreadsheet column headings. Column A contains the Bright Star Catalog star number of each star included. Those numbers are referred to as the HR number for "Harvard Revised". Some stars are listed twice if anciently they were consider to be included in two different constellations. Columns A through N are the input columns unique to this spreadsheet. The later columns are data derived from the Mag 5 Catalog from the HR number in Column A.

Column B contains my assigned constellation number followed by the abbreviation for the constellation name in Column C. The 48 constellations are numbered as four sets of 12. The first 12 are those of the zodiac beginning with Virgo and ending with Leo. The next three sets of twelve are numbered such that each dozen is aligned more or less at the same ecliptic longitude as are the zodiac constellations. Figure 1 shows a table of the order. They increase in number from right to left because they are shown at they appear in the sky. Look at the column on the left, Leo is number 12, Hydra number 24, Crater is 36 and Corvus is 48. The vertical ordering was done to maintain as much as possible the ancient Persian ordering of the three constellations which accompanied each of the zodiac constellations in their list of 48.

Fig. 1. Numbering Scheme of the 48 constellations.
(Click to enlarge)

Looking the constellations shown in Figure 1, it will be noticed that some are different from modern lists, even that of the 48 of Ptolemy. Constellation 13 is the "Infant Prince" composed of the stars of Coma Berenices and Canes Venatici. It was known to the ancient Persians but had been lost by the time of the Greeks. The constellation named "T-Cross" in the center of the bottom row is the same as Triangulum, except that the three bright stars from a "T" rather than a triangle. The Ship constellation near the left of the bottom row is Argo, the original constellation of the ship which modern astronomers divided into Vela (Sail), Carina (Keel) and Puppis (Deck). It also included some stars now assigned to Pyxis (Compass).

Column D contains the star number assigned by me to each star in every constellation which follows closely the order in which Ptolemy listed the stars in his catalog (even if he listed them nearby the constellation). The stars are sorted first by the three-letter name abbreviation in Column C and then by star number in Column D. In that manner, the stars included in two constellations are listed in both. Such star pairs are each given the same alphabet letter in Column F (Multiple Entries). For example, Alpheratz (α And) is both the head of Andromeda and also the navel of Pegasus. This is indicated by each star having the same letter ("c" in this case) in Column F.

Column E contains Ptolemy's description of the location of the star in the figure, if available. Otherwise, it may contain my comment, accompanied by my initials JPP. Column G is Ptolemy's constellation number, if it was listed in his star catalog.

Column H contains the HR star number of the brightest other component if it is a multiple star system. Column P contains the combined visual magnitude (V) of both if a second is listed in Column H.

If the star has an official name listed by the International Astronomical Union, it is listed in Column O. Otherwise, I have created names (mostly Arabic, Greek or Latin) for many of the other stars, which are listed in Column I. References for those names are provided in Column J. Column K contains my English name for the star, which is a translation of the name in Column I if one is listed there. Otherwise, it may be a translation of the IAU name (if that seems appropriate) or it is another name which seems fitting.

If the star is one of 28 lunar manions (stations approximately equally spaced around the ecliptic), then the number of the mansion is listed in Column L. The stars selected for this honor were mostly taken from the Babylonian and Arabic lists.

Columns M and N contain the Bayer or other accepted star designation, which is much more familiar that the HR numbers for referencing stars. Column N contains the usual designation using Greek letters and Column M uses three-letter abbreviations for the Greek letters (for those who skipped learning Greek).

Column Q is the sidereal longitude in degrees. That is similar to ecliptic longitude, but it is measured from a "fixed star" (very low proper motion), namely from pi Vir, in degrees around the ecliptic. It is not affected by precession. Column R is similar but is measured in days of a 364-day year rather than in degrees of a 360 degree circle. That column is intended for use in making a star calendar, where a star is assigned to a day based its longitude.

Columns S and T convert the sidereal longitude into degrees into a 30° sector around the zodiac. And finally, Column U is the sidereal latitude, which is equivalent to celestial latitude, simply being the angle in degrees above or below the ecliptic.

This spreadsheet may be updated from time to time without notice, especially to add new star names, with the date on this page being the only indication of such changes.