IAU Constellations (88)

IAU Constellations (88) Menu page

Use the link in the main navigation menu to go to the IAU Constellations (88) menu page.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) established official boundaries for 88 constellations in 1922. The IAU constellation boundaries serve as the grid that maps the entire sky. Every star pattern or sky object is tagged with the IAU constellations that it contains or touches.  

Main Content Area

Survey the links for the 88 modern constellations. How many of the modern constellation names are new to you? Do any surprise you? Plan to explore them to your heart's content.

Beneath the 88 constellation links are some special features.

Click the two links at the very bottom of the main content area just to see where they lead:

Use the back button in your browser to return to the IAU Constellations (88) page.

Finally, on this page you can get a list of constellations by each of the regions of the sky:

Circumpolar (northern These constellations never completely set for northern observers, but are visible year-round.
Northern You may have to travel north to see these.
Zodiac This "circle of animals" contains the Sun and planets at different times of the year.
Equatorial These constellations touch the equator, and are visible from every inhabited location on the globe.
Southern You may have to travel south to see these.
Circumpolar (southern) These constellations never completely set for southern observers, but are visible year-round.

Constellation Shortcut menu

Each IAU constellation is designated by a three-letter abbreviation, such as "Tau" for Taurus the Bull. 

Compare the IAU abbreviations listed on this page with the three-letter abbreviations the span the bottom of every page beneath the main content area. The latter is the Constellation shortcut menu that links directly to any of the 88 IAU constellation pages.

Find the link for "Tau - Taurus the Bull." Click it to go to the Taurus constellation page. Go back to the IAU Constellations (88) page. Now find "Tau" in the Constellations shortcut menu and verify that it takes you to the same page for Taurus.

Taurus Constellation page: Main Content Area

In the main content area of any Constellation page you may find brief explanations of the following:

  • Intro and Visual description
  • Special Stars
  • Origin and History
  • Skylore, Literature and Culture

At the bottom, images of this constellation appear from all sources. These images were tagged "IAU Constellation" in the "Menu Category" field described on the Images Tour page.

Right Sidebar: Source Links

Glance at the links in the right sidebar and explore any of them that catch your interest. Then use the back button in your browser to return to this page.

IAU Star Map Click the star map, or the caption, to enlarge. Courtesy IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg); CC-by.
Constellation Links

Detailed information about the constellation. These links may include:

  • Allen, Star Names: the classic book of star lore.
  • Ridpath, Star Tales: another good source of constellation stories.
  • SEDs Constellation page: handy information for amateur astronomers.
  • Wikipedia: direct link to the constellation page.
  • Chet Raymo, 365 Starry Nights: Our recommended book for beginners to get to know the night sky. Since it lacks an index, use these pages numbers to quickly  locate any constellation.
Asterisms Asterisms are constellation names and patterns other than the 88 IAU constellations. Here you will find links to asterisms that the IAU constellation touches or contains.
Deep Sky Objects These Deep Sky Objects are visible through binoculars and small telescopes. They may be gaseous nebulae or star clusters within the Milky Way galaxy, or galaxies beyond our own. Deep Sky Objects are identified according to common lists of such objects, including the Messier and NGCC catalogs.

Left Sidebar: Constellation Info

Survey the info about this IAU Constellation in the left sidebar and explore any of them that catch your interest. Then use the back button in your browser to return to this page. 

Some of these terms may be unfamiliar to you; if so, there is nothing wrong with ignoring them at present. As you begin to observe the constellations, however, these different fields will become helpful to you. For explanations, see the links in the "Observing" block immediately following the Constellation Info block. But take your time: the sky is patient. You don't have to understand everything all at once.


In this block you can see the name of this constellation in many different languages. Languages tell many tales, and many will find these names of great interest in and of themselves. They will also be very helpful when you examine an atlas in one of these languages and want to confirm that you have correctly identified the constellation.