Asterisms - The Night Sky Atlas

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Asterisms are popular groupings of localized stars, similar to constellation stick figures, though some asterisms are only visible with optical aid. Listed below are the asterisms found in the list created by the Saguaro Astronomy Club, please visit their website for further info.

  Name     Mag     Size     Description  
Andromeda:  Visible in May before dawn, to January after dusk, best in September.
Frederick´s Glory 4    3.5 deg    ´Y´ shape formed by Iota; Kappa; Lambda and Psi Andromadae
Golf Putter 7    95' X 25'    1 degree long chain of stars with several stars at the end that form a golf club shape
Antlia:  Visible in October before dawn, to June after dusk, best in February.
Parabola 6    3' X 2'    A tiny curved arc of 4 pretty bright stars and two fainter members; from Magda Streicher
Aquarius:  Visible in May before dawn, to January after dusk, best in September.
DNA Strand 4    10d X 3d    A twisting helix of pretty bright stars in southern Aquarius; 86;88;89 and 98;99;101 and 104;106;107;108 Aquarii
Water Jar 3    3 deg    ´Y´ shaped; Zeta; Pi; Eta and Gamma Aquarii; a Water Jar on the shoulder of Aquarius; on the celestial equator; also Mercedes-Benz Symbol
Aquila:  Visible in March before dawn, to November after dusk, best in July.
Swoosh 3    4 deg    14;15; Gamma; 12 Aquilae and Eta Scuti form a curved chains of naked eye stars that point at cluster Messier 11 in Scutum; from Steve Coe
Aries:  Visible in July before dawn, to March after dusk, best in November.
Lilium (Lilly) 4    2 deg    35;39 and 41 Aretis; 17th century constellation; AKA Musca Borealis the Northern Fly
Auriga:  Visible in August before dawn, to April after dusk, best in December.
False Kids 4    2d X 0.5d    Nu; Tau and Upsilon Aurgae form a triangle similar to the Kids across Auriga near Theta Aurigae
Flying Minnow 5    75'    Includes 16; 18 and 19 Aurigae; between two faint nebulae IC 405 and NGC 1893; AKA Little Fish
Herschel´s Telescope 4    7d X 2d    Psi 2 thru Psi 9 (inclusive) Aurigae for a scaffold and tube that is somewhat like the large 20 foot telescope; includes cluster NGC 2281
Kids 4    2.5d X 1d    Epsilon; Eta and Zeta Aurigae; Triangle of stars south of Capella; represents kid goats in the care of Auriga
Smiley Face 6    1d X 0.5d    30 arcminutes south of cluster M 38; curved chain of 8 stars form smile with two eyes; small cluster Stock 8 is involved
Bootes:  Visible in December before dawn, to August after dusk, best in April.
Kite 1    23 deg    A Kite-shaped figure enclosed by Alpha; Beta; Gamma; Delta; Epsilon and Rho Bootis
Napoleon´s Hat 8    20' X 7'    7 stars form a chain that does indeed look like the outline of a French Marshall´s hat in the 18th century; 40 arcminutes south of Arcturus
Camelopardalis:  Visible in August before dawn, to April after dusk, best in December.
Kemble´s Cascade 5    2.5 deg    Prominent chain of stars that ends in cluster NGC 1502; counted 19 stars in chain with 8X42 binoculars--Steve Coe
Cancer:  Visible in September before dawn, to May after dusk, best in January.
Little Crab 5    4d X 0.5d    Cancer Minor; constellation from Cellarius Atlas in 17th century; 3;5 and 8 Cancri for straight line similar to depiction in atlas
Manger 4    4d X 2d    Four stars surround the Beehive Cluster (M 44); Gamma; Delta; Eta and Theta Cancri; from Christian lore
Canis Major:  Visible in September before dawn, to May after dusk, best in January.
Mini Orion 5    15'    6 stars; just naked eye
Tuft in the tail 5    2 deg    Collinder 140; from Steve Coe; giant naked eye cluster is pretty bright spot south of tail of Canis Major
Carina:  Visible in October before dawn, to June after dusk, best in February.
Diamond Cross 2    5d X 3d    Beta; Omega; Omicron and Upsilon Carinae
Tiny Southern Cross 8    5' X 4'    Tiny grouping that is a Crux look-alike; two degrees south of cluster NGC 2516
Cassiopeia:  Visible in May before dawn, to January after dusk, best in September.
Airplane 5    60'    8 stars of 7th and 8th magnitude located 40 arcminutes northwest of cluster M 52; AKA The Arrow
Kemble´s Kite 6    90' X 30'    Kite shaped grouping 2 degrees west of Gamma CAM; includes SAO 4917 a red M2 star
Lucky 7 5    125' X 70'    Includes 1 and 2 CAS
Queen´s ´W´ 2    13d X 5d    Alpha; Beta; Gamma; Delta and Epsilon Cassiopieae form a ´W´ or ´M´ shape; most of the throne of the Queen
Queen´s Kite 5    2d X 1.5d    Rough pentagon of stars including Chi CAS may be it; but no prominent kite shape here
Centaurus:  Visible in December before dawn, to August after dusk, best in April.
Dark Emu 2    38 deg    Giant dark nebula with Coal Sack as head of long necked bird that extends to western Scorpius; Alpha and Beta Centauri invl; Aboriginal origin
Pointers (South) 0    4 deg    Alpha and Beta Centauri point toward the Southern Cross; Alpha CEN is nearest star to Sun
Cepheus:  Visible in April before dawn, to December after dusk, best in August.
Cephus OB2 Ass´n 4    5d X 2.5d    Includes Xi; Nu; 19; 20 and 25 Cephei; 5 degrees north of nebula IC 1396
Crossbow 3    4d X 3d    Delta CEP (the shoulder piece of crossbow); Epsilon; Zeta and Lambda CEP (bow arms) and 14 CEP (bolt tip); best in binoculars at 10-15x
House of Cepheus 2    20d X 8d    Alpha; Beta; Gamma; Iota and Lambda Cephei for 5 sided figure with the ´roof´ facing toward Polaris
Seven sisters of the Pole 6    3d X 2.4d    A False Pleiades of stars of 6th magnitude; 1.5 deg north of cluster NGC 188
Cetus:  Visible in July before dawn, to March after dusk, best in November.
Head of the Whale 3    10d X 7d    Alpha; Lambda; Mu; Xi2; Nu and Gamma Ceti form a circlet; easy naked eye
Circinus:  Visible in December before dawn, to August after dusk, best in April.
Golden Horseshoe 6    1 deg    14 stars in a ´U´ shape; located 1.5 degrees SE of Alpha Circincus
Corvus:  Visible in November before dawn, to July after dusk, best in March.
Sail 3    7d X 3d    Beta; Gamma; Delta and Epsilon Corvi form a sail shaped grouping south of Virgo
Stargate 6    15'    1 degree SW from M 104 in Virgo; 4 stars of 7th magnitude including double star Struve 1659
Crux:  Visible in November before dawn, to July after dusk, best in March.
Southern Cross 2    6 deg    Crux is smallest constellation; starting at bottom with Alpha the star are in order of brightness going clockwise
Cygnus:  Visible in April before dawn, to December after dusk, best in August.
Dark Rift none    10d X 2d    A dark lane that splits the Milky Way in Cygnus
Fairy Ring 7    20' X 20'    A circlet of pretty faint stars; includes several double stars including HJ 1470; AKA Chaple´s Arc
Horseshoe 10    25'    A small; faint horseshoe of stars of 10th and 11th magnitude
Northern Cross 1    12d X 7d    Brightest stars in Cygnus; a cruciform along the Milky Way; Deneb at top; Alberio at bottom; stands up on western horizon in northern Autumn
Red Necked Emu 9    45'    29 CYG is tail; foot to the northwest head to southeast 1 reddish star in neck rest are blue white
Summer Triangle 1    38 deg    Deneb; Altair and Vega form conspicuous triangle during northern Summer
Delphinus:  Visible in March before dawn, to November after dusk, best in July.
Job´s Coffin 4    2.5d X 1d    Alpha; Beta; Gamma and Delta Delphini form a parallelogram that is Job´s Coffin; the name is lost in antiquity
Theta Delphini 5    60' X 30'    Theta Delphini has a spray of fainter stars out from it; including SS Del
Toadstool 8    15'    Several 8th and 9th magnitude stars located 7 arcminutes west of galaxy NGC 7025; also Dolphins´ Diamonds
Draco:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
Little Queen 7    20' X 10'    Rather prominent; a ´W´ shape of 7th and 8th magnitude stars
Lozenge 3    5.5 deg    The Head of Draco; Beta; Gamma; Xi and Nu 2 Draconis form lozenge shape
Quadrans Muralis 5    4d X 3d    An arc of stars that forms an ancient celestial navigation instrument; includes variable CL Draconis; radiant of Quadrantids meteors
Fornax:  Visible in August before dawn, to April after dusk, best in December.
Chi 1;2;3 6    30' X 30'    An arrowhead-shaped group 1 degree west of galaxy NGC 1365
Hercules:  Visible in January before dawn, to September after dusk, best in May.
Backwards 5 8    20'    Fairly obvious backward five; ends in 7th magnitude yellow star
Bowtie 3    18d X 10d    Adding Beta and Delta Herculis to the Keystone makes a bowtie shape
Hercules´s Club 3    17d X 3d    Bludgeon held by the Hero is formed by Iota; Tau; Nu and Phi Herculis; 11 degrees north of the Keystone; elongated East-West
Keystone 3    8 deg    Eta; Pi; Epsilon and Zeta Herculis
Ruby Ring 7    25'    A circlet of pretty faint stars with a 7th mag orange star involved; SAO 85678 also double Hough 564 7/12 mag with 34 seconds seperation
Sudor Ophiuchi 4    3 deg    >3 degree-long; NNW-SSE-oriented; naked-eye splash of stars just into Hercules; binoculars show curving strings of 5M thru 8M stars
Zig Zag 7    100' X 15'    A line of a dozen 8th and 9th magnitude stars that is never straight
Hydra:  Visible in September before dawn, to May after dusk, best in January.
Head of Hydra 4    5d X 3d    Delta; Rho; Eta; Zeta and Epsilon Hydrae form an irregular circlet: AKA Radio Antenna
Mini Scorpion 4    5d X 2d    54 thru 60 Hydrae for a curved arc much like Scorpius; in some sources this is location of Noctus; confusing
Night Owl (Noctus) 5    1.3d X 0.7d    47 and 48 Hydrae from the eyes of a faint owl that sits on the tail of Hydra; ancient constellation
Leo:  Visible in October before dawn, to June after dusk, best in February.
Sickle 1    12d X 8d    The Sickle of Leo includes the bright star Regulus; giant backward question mark
Leo Minor:  Visible in October before dawn, to June after dusk, best in February.
Sailboat Cluster 7    45'    A dozen pretty faint stars
Monoceros:  Visible in August before dawn, to April after dusk, best in December.
Orion´s Belt 1    3 deg    Only place in the sky with 3 bright stars in a mostly straight line; Zeta; Epsilon; Delta Orionis
Orion´s Sword 2    2.5 deg    Curved sword appears to hang from left side of Belt; Rho; Theta and Iota Orionis; includes M 42--the Orion Nebula
Pakan´s 3 8    30'    Fairly small figure located 3 degrees SW of cluster M 50
Unicorn´s Horn 8    10'    Small arrowhead of pretty faint stars
Winter Triangle -1    25 deg    Procyon; Sirius and Betelgeuse form conspicuous triangle during northern Winter
Ophiucus:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
Coffin 3    30d X 24d    The outline of Delta; Zeta; Eta; Gamma; Alpha; Kappa and Lambda Ophiuchi create the shape of a box for burial; he is a Snake Handler ya´know
Offramp 4    21 deg    An elongated section of Milky Way from Epsilon Aquilae to Beta Ophiuchi; also ´The Thumb´ of the Milky Way
Orion:  Visible in August before dawn, to April after dusk, best in December.
Lambda-Lambda 3    50' X 20'    The star Lambda Orionis is involved within a grouping that has the shape of the Greek letter Lambda; includes Phi 1 Orionis
Saucepan 1    14 deg    Includes Sword of Orion as the handle of a saucepan that includes the Belt stars; Betelgeuse and Bellatrix (Gamma Ori); also Venus´s Mirror
Pegasus:  Visible in May before dawn, to January after dusk, best in September.
Great Square 2    20 d    The Great Square of Pegasus; the Baseball Diamond; Alpha; Beta and Gamma Pegasi with Alpha Andromedae
Stephan´s Test 12    3'    Jagged line of faint stars 17 arc minutes NE of Stephan´s Quintet (NGC 7320+); faintest is 14.7 mag; used by Stephan to test transparency
Perseus:  Visible in July before dawn, to March after dusk, best in November.
Medusa´s Head 3    2 deg    Beta; Omega; Rho; Pi; 20; 15; 12 Persei; the Gorgon´s Head
Saxophone 2    2 deg    Alpha Per Cluster; Mel 20; long curved star chain like musical instrument
Segment of Perseus 3    25 deg    A chain of the major stars of Perseus; In order: Eta; Gamma; Alpha; Delta; Epsilon and Zeta
Pisces:  Visible in May before dawn, to January after dusk, best in September.
Circlet of Pisces 3    5 deg    Southern Fish of Pisces; Gamma; 7; Kappa; Lambda; TX; Iota Theta Psc 5 degrees in diameter. TX Piscium is a red carbon star
Pisces Austrinus:  Visible in April before dawn, to December after dusk, best in August.
Air ballon 7    48' X 40'    A closed loop of stars 3.3 degrees SW of globular cluster M 30; old constellation now unused
Puppis:  Visible in September before dawn, to May after dusk, best in January.
Argo Navis 0    53d X 39d    Ancient constellation of Ship of the Argonauts; broken into Carina (keel);Puppis (poop deck); Vela (sails) and Carina (keel)
Southern Little Queen 8    7' X 2'    Small Cassiopeia look-alike; not very prominent; by Magda Streicher
Sagitta:  Visible in March before dawn, to November after dusk, best in July.
Arrowchain 8.6    36'    0.6 degree-long; N-S-oriented chain of 8M thru 10M stars located S of SGE´s arrow; 35´ NNW of 5M 10 SGE
Sagittarius:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
HSL Chain 9.5    30'    10´ to the ESE of CL N6568 is 5.5M 14 SGR and a 0.5 degree-long; fairly straight; N-S oriented asterism of eight nearly equal (9 mag) stars
Teapot 2    14 deg    Handle of Teapot to the east and Spout to the west with ´steam´ of Milky Way coming out of the Spout; Handle is also Milk Dipper
Teaspoon 4    8d X 2d    Nu; Rho1; 43; Pi; Omega; Xi1 and Xi2 Sagitarii form a curved ´spoon´ shape NE of Teapot; Beautiful binocular scanning including lovely chain
Scorpius:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
Fish Hook 2    23d X 8d    The curved body of Scorpius from Antares to the Stinger; Hawaiian legend states the God Maui used it to pull up the islands above the Pacific
Stinger of Scorpius 3    40'    Lambda and Nu Scorpii form the sting in the tail of the Scorpion
Table of Scorpius 3    2.5 deg    Naked eye bright spot where Scorpius turns east; Incl CL NGC 6231; Australians call it ´The False Comet´
Scutum:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
Button Hook 5    75' X 45'    A curving chain of pretty bright stars that loop across the Scutum Star Cloud; from Steve Coe; AKA the ´J´ String
Essertoo String 11    6'    11M; ´´S´´-shaped string of twelve 10 thru 12M stars (brightest star = 9.5M at NNE end); 5´x 2´ extent; oriented NNE-SSW
Serpens:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
Bull of Poniatowski 4    3.5 deg    A ´V´ shaped group of stars consisting of 66;67;68;70 and 73 Ophiuchi; similar to Hyades ´V´; also Mel 186
Taurus:  Visible in August before dawn, to April after dusk, best in December.
Ally´s Braid 7    42'    Trailing from Alcyone (Eta Tauri) in the Pleiades; 7 stars in a beautiful chain to the SE of Alcyone (Ally)
Davis´ Dog 5    3.5d X 1.5d    Includes Upsilon; 51 and 53 Tauri; a ´Canis Major´ shape of rather prominent stars
Heavenly ´G´ -1    53d X 46d    In order Capella; Castor; Pollux; Procyon; Sirius; Rigel; Aldebaran and Betelgeuse for a ´G´iant letter in the Winter sky; largest asterism?
Hyades 3    5 deg    Mel 25; Sisters of Pleiades
Spermatozoon 8    30'    35´ E of Zeta TAU; 0.5 degree-long chain of nearly equal magnitude stars; with brightest at point of triangular head
Telescopium:  Visible in February before dawn, to October after dusk, best in June.
X Marks The Spot 9    15'    Not very prominent
Triangulum:  Visible in July before dawn, to March after dusk, best in November.
Triangulum Minor 5    90' X 60'    A small triangle formed by 6; 10 and 12 Triangulii; an obsolete constellation
Triangulum Australe:  Visible in January before dawn, to September after dusk, best in May.
Three Patriarchs 2    8d X 6d    A prominent triangle; includes Alpha; Beta and Gamma Triangulum Australae
Ursa Major:  Visible in November before dawn, to July after dusk, best in March.
Big Dipper 1    25 deg    The Plough; Charles´s Wain (Wagon); includes northern Pointer stars
Broken engagement Ring 7    20'    An open or ´C´ shaped grouping of 10 stars; AKA The Crown
Horse and Rider 3    12'    Mizar and Alcor; Zeta Ursa Majoris and 80 Ursa Majoris; an ancient test of naked eye visual acuity
Pointers (North) 1    5 deg    Alpha and Beta UMA point toward North Celestial Pole; also known as the Keepers of the Pole
Ursa Minor:  Visible in July before dawn, to March after dusk, best in November.
Diamond Ring 2    45'    A circlet of 7th and 8th magnitude stars with Polaris the brightest
Guardians of the Pole 2    3 deg    Kochab (Beta UMI) and Gamma UMI at the end of the Little Dipper; these two stars circle and so ´guard´ the celestial pole
Little Dipper 3    20d X 4d    Includes Polaris; the North Star; end of small dipper is Kochab (Beta UMI)
Mini - Coathanger 8    15'    It is indeed a faint copy of the Coathanger in Vulpecula; includes a 15th magnitude galaxy at end of ´hook´
Vela:  Visible in September before dawn, to May after dusk, best in January.
False Cross 2    7d X 4d    Kappa and Delta Velorum/ Iota and Epsilon Carina
Virgo:  Visible in November before dawn, to July after dusk, best in March.
Jaws 7    15'    25 arcminutes WNW of M 104; chain of 8 stars outline a shark
Skip Loader 3    20 deg    Epsilon; Delta; Gamma; Eta and Beta Virginis from the bucket of a tractor following behind the Lion
Vulpecula:  Visible in March before dawn, to November after dusk, best in July.
Coathanger 4    90'X60'    Collinder 399; Brocchi´s Cluster; he used it for photometer calibration

The night sky atlas creates images of any part of the night sky, allowing easy location of any object. Detailed chart images show all stars visible to the naked eye, the constellations, Messier objects, and names of the brightest stars. Data sources: Bright Star Catalog from the Astronomical Data Center, star names list from Steven Gibson, all-sky Milky Way image by Axel Mellinger. The data used in this product, in whole or in part, is used with permission of The NGC/IC Project LLC. Many thanks go to those who maintain and make available their astronomy datasets without which this sky atlas would not have been possible. Permission for any use of these chart images is granted, provided that the original website address remains visible on all images. Enjoy!