Astronomical symbols

Astronomical symbols are abstract pictorial symbols used to represent astronomical objects, theoretical constructs and observational events in European astronomy. The earliest forms of these symbols appear in Greek papyrus texts of late antiquity. The Byzantine codices in which many Greek papyrus texts were preserved continued and extended the inventory of astronomical symbols.[2][3] New symbols have been invented to represent many planets and minor planets discovered in the 18th to the 21st centuries.

This excerpt from the 1833 Nautical Almanac demonstrates the use of astronomical symbols, including symbols for the phases of the moon, the planets, and zodiacal constellations.
"Designation of celestial bodies" in a German almanac printed in 1850[1]

These symbols were once commonly used by professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, alchemists, and astrologers. While they are still commonly used in almanacs and astrological publications, their occurrence in published research and texts on astronomy is relatively infrequent,[4] with some exceptions such as the Sun and Earth symbols appearing in astronomical constants, and certain zodiacal signs used to represent the solstices and equinoxes.

Unicode has encoded many of these symbols, mainly in the Miscellaneous Symbols,[5] Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs,[6] and Alchemical Symbols blocks.[7]


Share this article:

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Astronomical symbols, and is written by contributors. Text is available under a CC BY-SA 4.0 International License; additional terms may apply. Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.