History of the Constellations

Stars and Constellations


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Contents of this page: | Description | Skylore | Modern Culture | Origin and History | Asterisms | Submit new info... |

Images (at bottom of page): | Delphinus Chart: (Figure 1) | Hyginus, 1482, page 4v: (Figure 2) | Hyginus, 1517, page F4r: (Figure 3) | Ptolemy, 1541-const, page Delphinus: (Figure 4) | Bayer, 1661, page R: (Figure 5) | Bayer, 1697, page F4v: (Figure 6) | Bayer, 1697, page G1r: (Figure 7) | Bode, 1801, page r: (Figure 8) | Aspin, 1825, page Delphinus: (Figure 9) | Images digitized by Hannah Magruder.

Constellation Data


Located between Pegasus and Aquila, look for four stars in a diamond (also called Job’s Coffin).

Skylore and Literature

Delphinus rescued Arion, a singer, after pirates threw him overboard. After Arion rode the dolphin to shore, the pirates were captured and executed.

Modern Culture

Origin and History

Delphinus is included in the ancient star catalogs of Eudoxos of Knidos, Aratos of Soli, and Ptolemy.


Job’s Coffin

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Many excellent websites provide a variety of information about constellations for amateur astronomers and telescope users (see sidebar links for a few of these). These constellation pages are not intended to duplicate those efforts, but are devoted to two aims: First, they are intended to assist the beginning skywatcher, including students in history of science survey courses, in becoming familiar with Basic Celestial Phenomena (BCP). Second, these pages are devoted to the history of the constellations and the history of astronomy. They are intended to serve as a repository for collaborative use and reference. Do you have additional historical information about the stars or constellation described on this page? Please submit additional information to kmagruder@ou.edu. Submissions will be attributed. Editors for historical information are Kerry Magruder, JoAnn Palmeri, Peter Barker, and Laura Gibbs.

Oklahoma History of Science exhibits: http://hos.ou.edu/exhibits/. Page revised 4/15/04

Bad links, misplaced images, or questions? Contact Kerry Magruder. Thank you.

"If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore, and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown. But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile." R. W. Emerson, Nature


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Del Chart
Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

Hyginus, 1482

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Hyginus, 1517

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Ptolemy, 1541-const

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Bayer, 1661

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Bayer, 1697

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Bayer, 1697

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Bode, 1801

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Aspin, 1825

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder.

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These teaching resources provided by the History of Science Department at the University of Oklahoma.

Unless otherwise indicated, all images courtesy History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries. Image Terms of Use.

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OU Disclaimer | Contacts: Content - Kerry Magruder, Website - Eric Bruning