Latin in Astronomy


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There's more here than just the constellations but we'll start with those.

The Zodiac

Nominative, Genitive, Meaning

Aries, Arietis "The Ram"
Taurus, Tauri "The Bull"
Gemini, Geminorum, "The Twins"

Cancer, Cancri, "The Crab"
Leo, Leonis, "The Lion"
Virgo, Virginis, "The Virgin"

Libra, Librae, "The Scales"
Scorpius, Scorpii, "The Scorpion"
Sagittarius, Sagitarii, "The Archer"

For whatever reason, the International Astronomical Union adopted the name Scorpius instead of Scorpio (Genitive Scorpionis). Also the Ecliptic crosses part of constellation Ophiuchus, Ophiuchi, "The Serpent Bearer," between Scorpius and Sagittarius.

Capricornus, Capricorni, "The (Sea) Goat"
Aquarius, Aquarii, "The Water Bearer"
Pisces, Piscium, "The Fishes"

Imber Ranae

Ranunculus Iracundus
Scorpius is the older name, from Greek Σκορπίος,-ου (2nd decl.).

ETA: Ophiuchus is just a transliteration of Greek Ὀφιοῦχος "serpent-holding", which Cicero calques as Anguitenens. Serpentarius, the former name of this constellation, seems to be of medieval Latin origin.

Capricornus just means "goat-horned", a calque of Greek Αἰγόκερως. Being an adjective, it could really refer to anything that has goats' horns and is masculine in gender, though it's usually represented as a half-fish/half-goat hybrid creature.


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Northern Constellations

Ursa Minor (Ursae Minoris), the Lesser Bear
Ursa Major (Ursae Majoris), the Greater Bear
Draco (Draconis), the Dragon
Cepheus (Cephei), Cepheus the King
Cassiopeia (Cassiopeiae), Cassiopeia the Princess


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Summer Constellations, Northern Hemisphere:

Aquila, -ae "The Eagle"
Bootes, Bootis, "Bootes"
Corona Borealis, Coronae Borealis "The Northern Crown"
Hercules, -ei "Hercules"
Lyra, -ae "The Lyre"
Sagitta, -ae "The Arrow"
Serpens, Serpentis, "The Serpent"
Ophiuchus, -i "The Serpent Holder"


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Autumn constellations, Northern Hemisphere:

Andromeda, Andromedae, "Andromeda the Princess"
Cassiopeia, Cassiopeiae, "Cassiopeia the Queen"
Cepheus, Cephei, "Cepheus the King"
Delphinus, Delphini, "The Dolphin"
Draco, Draconis, "The Dragon"
Triangulum, Trianguli, "The Triangle"
Pegasus, Pegasi, "Pegasus"


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Winter constellations, Northern Hemisphere:

Perseus, Persei "Perseus, the Hero"
Auriga, Aurigae "The Charioteer"


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Southern Constellations

Tucana, -ae, the Toucan
Pavo, -onis, the Peacock
Ara, -ae, the Altar
Triangulum Australe (Trianguli Australis), the Southern Triangle
Centaurus, -i, the Centaur
Crux, Crucis, the Cross
Musca, -ae, the Fly
Vela, -orum, the Sails
Carina, -ae, the Keel
Hydrus, -i, the Hydrus