Asterisms : What? and List

Looking up and finding patterns in the stars is a pastime that’s as old as humanity. The constellations are rich with mythology that has been passed on for millennia.

The name for these unofficial constellations is “asterism.” Like constellations, asterisms have a long history. Some are regional, (this particular asterism list  is from Germany) while others are universally recognized. Some are ancient, while others are more modern. If you enjoy stargazing, you may even have a few of your own personal asterisms. So go and be creative in the night sky and have fun.

If you are willing to find these asterisms, my advice would be to use Stellarium, if you still haven’t downloaded it, go grab it for free. you just have to type in the stars names in the Search field, for example: “delta Ori”,”epsilon Ori” and “zeta Ori”. And then you could be able to identify the asterism”the belt of Orion”. Pretty easy, huh!

Table of Asterisms:


Located in the constellation Cancer. It is an open star cluster, which is also called Praesepe or M44 and faintly visible to the naked eye.
With the stars gamma Can and delta Can it forms another asterisms called the Asses and the Manger.

Belt of Orion

is being formed by the stars delta Ori, epsilon Ori and zeta Ori; in Latin Amerika it is called the “Three Marys”.


is being built by the four stars alpha UMa, beta UMa, gamma UMa and delta UMa.


Big Dipper

most famous asterism. Formed by the following Stars of the Great Bear alpha UMa, beta UMa, gamma UMa, delta UMa, epsilon UMa, zeta UMa and eta UMa, it is often called “Wain” (Wagon) or “Charles’s Wain” because of its resemblance with it when the Dipper handle is thought to be the wagon tongue.


Bull of Poniatowski

A T-shaped asterism just east of gamma Oph; it is formed by the stars 66 Oph, 67 Oph, 68 Oph and 70 Oph


the western fish; the circlet is formed by gamma Psc, b Psc, theta Psc, iota Psc, 19 Psc, lambda Psc and kappa Psc.


Actually this is not a true asterism, but a dark patch on the Milky Way, in the constellation Crux. By the African Bushmen it was called “Old Bag”.

Frederick’s Glory

is formed by iota And, kappa And, lambda And and psi And

Guardians of the Pole

just beta UMi and gamma UMi

Head of Cetus

presented by alpha Cet, gamma Cet, xi_2 Cet, mu Cet and lambda Cet

Heavenly G

nine bright stars forming a G-shaped group. Seven of these stars are of 1st magnitude. In order they are: Aldebaran (alpha Tau), Capella (alpha Aur), Castor (alpha Gem), Pollux (beta Gem), Procyon (alpha CMi), Sirius (alpha CMa), Rigel (beta Ori), Bellatrix (gamma Ori) and Betelgeuse (alpha Ori)


open cluster; V-shaped group superposed on alpha Tau, gamma Tau, delta Tau and epsilon Tau

Hydra Head

build by delta Hya, epsilon Hya, zeta Hya, eta Hya, rho Hya and sigma Hya

Job’s Coffin

formed by the four stars alpha Del, beta Del, gamma Del and delta Del


is formed by the epsilon Her, zeta Her, eta Her and pi Her


are called epsilon Aur, zeta Aur and eta Aur


build by the four stars beta Dra, gamma Dra, xi Dra and nu Dra

Milk Dipper

The following five members of the constallation Sagittarius can be interpreted as an inverted dipper in the Milky Way: zeta Sgr, tau Sgr, sigma Sgr, phi Sgr and lambda Sgr. This asterism is also known as The Teapot.

Northern Cross

is formed by the leading stars of the constellation Cygnus: alpha Cyg, beta Cyg, gamma Cyg, delta Cyg and epsilon Cyg

Northern Fly

This is a small triangle over the rear of Aries


Located in the constellation Taurus. This open star cluster is one of the Messier objects, M45. It also known as Seven Sisters or, in Latin America the Seven Little Goats

Segment of Perseus

the stars eta Per, gamma Per, alpha Per, delta Per, epsilon Per and zeta Per forming an arc.


formed by alpha Leo, eta Leo, gamma Leo, zeta Leo, mu Leo and epsilon Leo

Square of Pegasus

At the edges of that square you find alpa Peg, beta Peg, gamma Peg and alpha And

Sword of Orion

theta Ori and iota Ori; between them the famous Orion Nebula (M42) is located.

Venus Mirror

also on Orion; the belt stars (delta Ori, epsilon Ori and zeta Ori), the sword and eta Ori build up this asterism. The sword forms the handle of the diamond-shaped mirror.

Y of Aquarius

also called Water Jar; the Y is build by gamma Aqr, eta Aqr, pi Aqr and zeta Aqr


About heavenswithlamps

I am an educator by day and a casual Star gazer by night. I read a lot, surf a lot, cycle at times, like trekking, learning swimming, and philosophize at times. Life = Be Cooool!

Posted on March 31, 2012, in Constellations, Learning the basics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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