Sign up ×
Astronomy Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for astronomers and astrophysicists. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The current system of constellations is historical and has kind of arbitrary boundaries.

This has a number of obvious downsides:

  • Difficult to define boundaries need complex tables to express
  • Each constellation subtends a different solid angle (area of sky)
  • etc

Has anyone ever proposed, or does anyone use, a system of cutting the sky into regular chunks, that are either simple to define or similar in area? Do any of these systems (if they exist) attempt to preserve the most important/famous constellations (as least the part people normally see) ?

share|improve this question
The constellation boundaries we use today are pretty much an attempt to do that. They are "fairly" regular in the J1950.0 grid, which is how they were originally defined: –  barrycarter May 19 at 16:18
OK, they are made of boundaries that are all lines of longitude or latitude, but I'd hardly call them "regular". –  ThePopMachine May 19 at 17:17

1 Answer 1

Modern astronomers are not instructed on the constellations and pay little attention to them except as a naming convention for stars. Positional information is nearly always either equatorial (ra,dec), or galactic (gl,gb), or supergalactic (SGL, SGB). To improve the speed in which information on a region can be extracted from a database, a scheme called Hierarchical Triangular Mesh (HTM), is often used. The sky is divided into three sections (0,1,2) and each of those is divided into 3 sections (00,01,02,10,11...) and this iterated until the level of finest size is reached. One can address the finest region by using all of the digits or a larger region by dropping some of the final digits.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.