Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille

Ian Ridpath attributes fourteen constellations of the southern celestial hemisphere to Father Nicolas Louis de Lacaille.

Lacaille's Expedition to South Africa

In 1750 de Lacaille sailed to South Africa and set up his observatory beneath the slopes of Table Mountain near Cape Town. In about one year's time he measured the coordinates of almost 10,000 stars (using a one-half inch diameter telescope according to Allen).

Return to France

Upon his return to France in 1754, de Lacaille presented his map of the southern stars to the French Royal Academy of Sciences, which published the map in 1756. On this map were marked de Lacaille's fourteen new constellations, which were rapidly accepted by the astronomers of the world.

Breaking Up the Ship

Besides creating fourteen new constellations, de Lacaille broke up the large classical constellation of Argo Navis into its component parts: Carina (The Keel), Puppis (The Stern), and Vela (The Sail).

de Lacaille's Fourteen Constellations


Copyright © 1998 - 2010 by Arnold V. Lesikar,
Professor Emeritus
Dept. of Physics, Astronomy, and Engineering Science,
St. Cloud State University,St. Cloud, MN 56301-4498

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