© 2016

The Lost Constellations

A History of Obsolete, Extinct, or Forgotten Star Lore


Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Also part of the Popular Astronomy book sub series (POPULAR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xx
  2. Toward the Modern Night Sky

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. John C. Barentine
      Pages 3-10
    3. John C. Barentine
      Pages 11-31
  3. The Lost Constellations

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 33-33
    2. John C. Barentine
      Pages 35-45
    3. John C. Barentine
      Pages 47-63
    4. John C. Barentine
      Pages 65-88
    5. John C. Barentine
      Pages 89-97
    6. John C. Barentine
      Pages 99-117
    7. John C. Barentine
      Pages 119-137
    8. John C. Barentine
      Pages 139-151
    9. John C. Barentine
      Pages 153-161
    10. John C. Barentine
      Pages 163-176
    11. John C. Barentine
      Pages 177-200
    12. John C. Barentine
      Pages 201-216
    13. John C. Barentine
      Pages 217-226
    14. John C. Barentine
      Pages 227-238
    15. John C. Barentine
      Pages 239-255
    16. John C. Barentine
      Pages 257-272

About this book


Casual stargazers are familiar with many classical figures and asterisms composed of bright stars (e.g., Orion and the Plough), but this book reveals not just the constellations of today but those of yesteryear. The history of the human identification of constellations among the stars is explored through the stories of some influential celestial cartographers whose works determined whether new inventions survived. The history of how the modern set of 88 constellations was defined by the professional astronomy community is recounted, explaining how the constellations described in the book became permanently “extinct.”  Dr. Barentine addresses why some figures were tried and discarded, and also directs observers to how those figures can still be picked out on a clear night if one knows where to look. These lost constellations are described in great detail using historical references, ennabling observers to rediscover them on their own surveys of the sky. Treatment of the obsolete constellations as extant features of the night sky adds a new dimension to stargazing that merges history with the accessibility and immediacy of the night sky.


Forgotten Constellations Historical Asterisms History of Astronomical Nomenclature History of Star Cartography History of Star Maps IAU Constellation Commission Modern 88 Constellations Single-sourced Constellations Western Catalog of Constellations

Authors and affiliations


About the authors

John Barentine is a lifelong amateur astronomer, with formal education and experience in academic astronomy. He holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in physics and astronomy, and received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. His dissertation work followed the path of atomic and molecular gas from star formation through the evolution of galaxies. Most of his doctoral research was published in the Astrophysical Journal, and in previously published articles in other academic outlets such as the Astronomical Journal and Astronomical Society of the Pacific Conference Series volumes.

Previously, he was at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, where he was a staff scientist working on the Astrophysical Research Consortium 3.5-meter telescope and as an Observer for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. For that work, John was honored in 2007 by the International Astronomical Union, which named the asteroid (14505) Barentine his honor. Now, he is the Program Manager for the International Dark-Sky Association. This work brings him into frequent contact with journalists and includes writing press releases. In 2006, he wrote a press release for an archaeoastronomy poster presented at a meeting of the AAS that went viral and resulted in worldwide media coverage as the “Barentine petroglyph”. In addition to John’s professional work, he writes an astronomy blog on Tumblr ( and maintains an active presence on Twitter.

Bibliographic information