History of the Constellations

Stars and Constellations


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

Images (at bottom of page): | Phoenix Chart: (Figure 1) | Bayer, 1661, page zzzAaa: (Figure 2) | Bayer, 1697, page O1v: (Figure 3) | Bayer, 1697, page O2r: (Figure 4) | Bode, 1801, page l: (Figure 5) | Images digitized by Hannah Magruder.

Constellation Data


Phoenix is one of four birds in the southern skies (cf. Pavo the Peacock, Grus the Crane, and Tucana the Toucan). Partially visible during early October low in the south from 35 degrees north latitude.

Skylore and Literature

The mythical Phoenix would end its life in a burning conflagration, only to rise once more from its ashes and live again.

Modern Culture

Origin and History

One of the eleven southern constellations created by Pieter Dirksz Keyser and Frederick de Houtman in 1596. These were published in Plate Aaa of Johann Bayer, Uranographia (1603).

Special Stars

Ankaa (Alpha-Phoenicis), halfway between Achernar (Eridanus) and Formalhaut (Southern Fish). Orange, 78 LY. Magnitude 2.4.

Submit new info...

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


Figure 1 Figure 1 - Return to Text

Phe Chart
Figure 2 Figure 2 - Return to Text

Bayer, 1661

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Figure 3 Figure 3 - Return to Text

Bayer, 1697

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Figure 4 Figure 4 - Return to Text

Bayer, 1697

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Figure 5 Figure 5 - Return to Text

Bode, 1801

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Exhibit credit: Kerry Magruder.

Exhibit Links
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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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