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Informal Science Education Resources
from the home of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope

Images & Illustrations

Constellation Mythological Forms

With the kind cooperation of the U.S. Naval Observatory's Library we digitally scanned a complete set of exquisite engravings from the 17th century Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia star atlas by Johannes Hevelius. Following an elaborate process of digital cleaning, reconstruction and retouching we are happy to make available the images shown below. You are welcome to use them in planetarium shows, exhibits, videos, and other non-commercial applications. (Kindly credit the U.S. Naval Observatory and the Space Telescope Science Institute.)

So far we have processed less than half of the constellations in Hevelii's atlas. Additional ones will be posted as we make them. (Sorry, we cannot accept requests to speed up the process!)

Some Important Notes

  • Hevelius pictured the celestial sphere from the outside looking in, so the views posted here are mirror images of how they should appear against a starfield seen from the center of the celestial sphere. (In other words, you have to flip them.)

  • The Web versions are relatively low-resolution gif files for easy previewing. The Full Resolution versions are png files with alpha channels. They are primarily meant to be saved to your computer and then opened in an image editing application (such as Adobe Photoshop), so that an appropriate starfield background can be inserted underneath.

    Example of how a constellation form is used on an actual astronomical image.

    Here is an example of how one of these constellations looks when flipped, tonally reversed (turning black to white), and overlayed atop a starfield.

Thumbnail of the constellation Andromeda.


Daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia (and chained to a rock on the seacoast as the sea monster Cetus approaches; don't worry -- it’s a happy ending!)

Web version (GIF 39kB) Full Resolution (PNG 2MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Aquarius.


The Water-Carrier

Web version (GIF 38kB) Full Resolution (PNG 4MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Auriga.


The Charioteer (actually more of a shepherd)

Web version (GIF 36kB) Full Resolution (PNG 2.3MB)

Thumbnail of the constellations Bootes.


The Herdsman

Web version (GIF 30kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.6MB)

Thumbnail of the constellations Cancer.


The Crab

Web version (GIF 40kb) Full Resolution (PNG 1.4MB)

Thumbnail of the constellations Canis.

Canis Major

The Great Dog

Web version (GIF 34kB) Full Resolution (PNG 700kB)

Thumbnail of the constellations Cassiopeia.


The Queen (of Ethiopia)

Web version (GIF 41kB) Full Resolution (PNG 3.2MB)

Thumbnail of the constellations Corona.

Corona Borealis

The Northern Crown

Web version (GIF 73kB) Full Resolution (PNG 531kB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Corvus.


The Crow

Web version (GIF 79kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Gemini.


The Twins

Web version (GIF 34kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.5MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Hercules.


The hero

Web version (GIF 37kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.7MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Leo.


The Lion

Web version (GIF 71kB) Full Resolution (PNG 3MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Lyra.


The Lyre

Web version (GIF 66kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.4MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Orion.


The Hunter

Web version (GIF 32kB) Full Resolution (PNG 2.2MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Pegasus.


The Winged Horse

Web version (GIF 52kB) Full Resolution (PNG 3MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Perseus


(Another hero)

Web version (GIF 42kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.8MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Sagittarius.


The Archer

Web version (GIF 48kB) Full Resolution (PNG 2MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Scorpius.


The Scorpion

Web version (GIF 36kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.9MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Serpens.


The Serpent (Ophiuchus, the Serpent-Bearer, is also depicted.)

Web version (GIF 34kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.5MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Taurus.


The Bull

Web version (GIF 40kB) Full Resolution (PNG 1.3MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Triangulum.


The Triangle

Web version (GIF 28kB) Full Resolution (PNG 123kB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Ursa Major

Ursa Major

The Great Bear

Web version (GIF 80kB) Full Resolution (PNG 3.1MB)

Thumbnail of the constellation Virgo.


The Maiden

Web version (GIF 45kB) Full Resolution (PNG 2.3MB)

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