50+ Former Constellations Discovered


50+ Former Constellations Discovered by Lance Carter

I recently discovered approximately 50+ former constellations thanks to Tarot trump card research done at Aeclectic Tarot Forum's Historical Research forum. These are former constellations in the northern sky from Sternenhimmels Inv. - Nr. 5576 Hz "Die Karte des Nördlichen Sternenhimmels" and the southern sky 5577 Hz Manuscript of 1503 "Die Karte des Südlichen Sternenhimmels" at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, Germany. These are called the Nuremberg Maps.
Northern sky:
http://www.atlascoelestis.com/HZ 5576 Pagina base.htm
Southern sky
http://www.atlascoelestis.com/hz 5577 51.htm

These constellations were hidden on two star maps made in 1503 AD by Conrad Heinfogel, Sebastianus Sperancius, and possibly others. These star maps presented the northern and southern sky with constellations known at the time. Around the traditional constellations seen on the star maps were illustrations of Greek and Roman gods such as Luna, Venus, and Mars and other objects such as winds, clouds, etc.

My investigation of the icons on the Death card lead to this discovery. I was looking for the icon of the sickle on ancient star maps and found one on the 5576 hz star chart. The sickle lie at the feet of the horse of the constellation Sagittarius on the 1503 AD star map, so I made an overlay of the stars of Corona Australis and it fit the illustration of Saturnus. Following this procedure I found over 50 former constellations on these two star maps.

The stars were not added to the constellation illustrations for these constellations although it is apparent to me and others that when star maps calculated for 1500 AD are overlaid onto the art, as shown in the linked animations they fit nicely. I would like the IAU to classify these as former constellations, although I previously referred to them here as "lost constellations". They were certainly forgotten constellations for they are not mentioned as constellations in existing literature. Were they a private joke? Did only a few know about these secret constellations? Did these astronomers intend for these new constellations to replace the old ones?

Another matter is the question of who was the artist? The astronomers are Sebastianus Sperancius and Conrad Heinfogel. The artist may have been hired. Theodorius Ulsenius has text in regard to the illustrations of the winds. The compass rose of Greek/Roman wind entities is also constellational.

Another question is why weren't stars added to the illustrations of the constellations of the southern sky? Was this a private joke? Was this humor? Was this too far out to be released on such a document at that time considering the political and religious situations? If a new set of constellations based on astronomy, myth, allegory, and astrology were devised, then their acceptance might make them popular, but if disapproved by those in authority then the new constellations might not get published. What if Conrad Heinfogel didn't agree with Sebastianus Sperancius about the new constellations and insisted that the illustrations be presented without stars? What if secret star maps with these southern constellations were made and lost? Was this a riddle to be solved? Yes. With the use of Photoshop and Cartes du Ciel software I was able to document these discoveries. The methodology was similar to the how I deciphered the Tarot trumps.

The two star maps were hidden in a private collection until 1943 and now they reside at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, Germany. They have been examined for decades and the allegorical figures were possibly known about for over 500 years (at least to the owners of the private collection). The allegorical figures around these two star maps, which I claim are constellations, have been subject to investigation, though for the most part have remained mysterious until now. A few questions regarding art iconography and art history might be answered when observing these illustrations not just as decorative art, but as actual constellations. For instance,

Thse star charts may have influenced art, such as in this example:
The illustration of Sebastianus Sperancius and Urania may be repeated in the work by Fuseli where Aratus the poet is shown with the same finger pose with Urania the Muse of astronomy.
It is my opinion that Sebastianus Sperancius was the designer of these new constellations since he got to star in his very own constellation called: " Sebastianus Sperancius", which lies near Urania.

Description of "Urania and Aratus" by Fuseli:
The poet Aratus is seated, Urania stands at his left and points to the sky. The image is the frontispiece of John Bonnycastle's 'An Introduction to Astronomy' 7th edn. 1816. Drawn by Henry Fuseli, engraved by John Keyse Sherwin, published by J. Robinson of London.

The same finger pose of Sebastianus Sperancius is also seen in the art "Urania and Aratus" by Fuseli in this animation.

The overlay of the art onto another star map of the southern sky without constellations and the sophistication of the art indicates to me that those astronomers had very accurate information about stars in the southern sky. My composite overlay of the southern sky with these former constellations indicates that observations were probably made from a southern latitude. Distortions in the constellations should reveal an approximate latitude for the observations of the southern sky where a observatory could have been located. Referencing the traditional southern sky constellations in the center on hz 5577 should provide additional information about the coordinates used. Another graphic problem is that the sky is distorted on those star maps to make them better conform to astrolabe specifications. This makes it difficult to create exacting star maps with my existing star charting software and low resolution graphics. These southern sky stars are unfamiliar to those of us in the northern hemisphere, but I am curious if those in the Southern Hemisphere can easily see these former constellations? Illustrations of these constellations will soon be published and are being scrutinized by experts, but I wonder if the IAU will classify these as "former constellations" as I have requested.

Were these constellations known to Durer? I don't see a constellational correspondence in the corner figures on Durer's celestial woodcuts so far.

Here is a partial list of former constellations in the southern sky from Sternenhimmels Inv. - Nr. 5576 Hz and 5577 Hz Manuscript of 1503 at the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nürnberg, Germany.

List of New Former Constellations:

Apollo (Sol)(Sun),
Crow to right of Apollo
Luna, (lower right hz5576)
Mercury,(Mercurius)(lower right hz5576)
(2 constellations) Venus & Cupido
(3 constellations) Jupiter and Eagle and Swan
Saturn, (Saturnus)
(2 constellations) Urania & Sebastianus Sperancius (possibly as Aratus)

Cerberus (3 headed hound)
3 FURIES (lower left hz5576):
Allecto (also Alecto nowadays)
Megaera (also Megara )
Tesiphone (on hz5576)(Tisiphone nowadays)
3 FATES: (upper left 5577)
Clotho (spinner),
Lachesis (allotter)
Atropos (unturnable)
Terra (Earth) (lower left hz5576)
Aqua (Water) (lower right hz5576)
Aer (Air) (Indus)
Ignis (Fire)
WINDS: (16)
(called wind rose - some with 12 winds)
Euroauster (Upper left hz5577)
Zephiroavster (Upper right hz5577)
Zephirus - mid right hz5577
Favonius (Roman wind god) mid upper right hz5577
Circius lower right hz5577
Zephiroborealis (lower rigth hz5577)
Chorus (wind - bottom right hz5577
Boreas (wind - bottom right hz5577
Aquilo - (wind) hz5577
VVLTVRNUS (wind on lower left hz5577 above bachus
Eurus (wind on hz5577 mid bycetus
SVBSOLANVS (wind) upper left hz5577
Man with shield (upper left hz5577)
Other miscellaneous objects such as clouds, winds, trees, ships, etc. are also asterisms.

Here are links to animations showing these illustrations as antique constellations.
3 Greek FATES = Vela, Puppis, & Carina:
MERCURIUS = Centaurus on Heinfogel's star map of 1503 AD:
Apollo in the stars of Eridanus and Fornax:
Venus = Ara on Conrad Heinfogel's 1503 star map
Pluto + Furies + Terra = Hydra + Sextans + Crater by Conrad Heinfogel 1503 AD star map:
Jupiter = Orion on Conrad Heinfogel's star map:
Luna in the stars of the south celestial pole:
Other examples will become available at my youtube channel: openmicrophone

These star maps and illustrations are described in the book:
"Illustrating the Phaenomena
Celestial cartography in Antiquity and the Middle Ages"
by Elly Dekker
480 pages | 170 b/w illustrations, 16pp colour plates | 246x189mm
978-0-19-960969-7 | Hardback | 25 October 2012
(Search for "Sebastianus Sperancius" in Google Books for a preview about the discussion about these allegorical figures on these star maps.)

Here is a video discussion that involves these star maps and what is known about them:
Artist Josiah McElheny and curator Susan Dackerman discuss works and concepts in the exhibition "Prints and the Pursuit of Knowledge in Early Modern Europe

My earlier renditions of this thesis had much to be desired, I know, but here's a link to how I discovered dozens of constellations while doing research at Aeclectic Tarot Forum. Although I am a published astrologer, this discovery was made while doing investigations into Tarot iconography.
Here is a link to how I started this investigation into the constellation Sagittarius and the Death card at ATF:
which is part of this discussion:
" The Tarot symbols origin"

Thanks to this investigation at Aeclectic Tarot Forum's Historical Research forum my conclusion is that the Death card is a portrayal of the constellations Sagittarius and Corona Australis. I hope that other researchers find additional clues about Tarot iconography using this information.
- Cartomancer (Lance Carter)


Were these constellations known to Durer? I don't see a constellational correspondence in the corner figures on Durer's celestial woodcuts so far.

Yes, Dürer knew it. The corner figures present common 7 "planets" with one unusual planet Pluto. And there are four pictures of 4 elements.
There were earlier planets compositions, which added an 8. motif ... I know of Athena-Minerva. Further there was the addition of dragon-head and dragon-tail in geomancy which was combined with astrological elements.
This was just a mathematical-graphical problem. Geomancy had 16 elements. Pictures usually have 4 corners. 7 planets don't fit well with this. 8 objects are more pleasant. Similar problems occurred occasionally with 7 virtues or 7 artes liberalis.

Dürer didn't take these for his star map. Normally planets and elements don't appear at star maps. These are just decoration in 1503. Another decoration is the Muse Urania, which is admired by Sperantius, who participated in the project.

Regiomontanus had a publishing house in Nuremberg 1472-1475, and started a large series of projects for astronomical books (he made a long list, which he desired to publish; he indeed published a few of them).

Regiomontanus died in Rome (1476), where he was called to by the pope Sixtus IV (this pope showed an interest in astronomical topics). He had a pupil or sponsor in Nuremberg, Bernhard Walther, who proceeded the work in Nuremberg.
Walther had a pupil Conrad Heinfogel, who participated in the map construction 1503. Heinfogel participated also in the map construction of 1515 (Dürer).


It is interesting that ancient names for certain star patterns might have relationships to symbols in the Tarot.

I would like to point that the stars are up there in the sky for all to see throughout the year, and ancient map makers would have been observing the real sky and mapping what they actually saw. We tend to think of constellations in the abstract. But they are just names for patterns of stars that we see in the sky, stars patterns that have been named by countless cultures since the dawn of the human race.

Prior to the early-mid 20th century, there was little or no light pollution from electric lights; everyone saw the night sky in all its glory every night.

So, the constellations themselves cannot be "hidden." But the names that people use to refer to a particular pattern of stars have changed throughout time and across cultures. Many names were used only by certain cultures, and many names have passed out of use. There must be tens of thousands of names that have been used over the millennia to describe star patterns we see in the sky.