Stellar nomenclature is the manner in which stars and star systems are named. Since many races and cultures study stellar phenomena over the course of centuries and millennia, there are intricate forms for defining the various bodies perceived by astronomers.
Constellations and asterisms
Multiple civilizations have developed constellations, which are groups of visible fixed phenomena in the sky of their planets that have special meanings or histories. These early separations have become the root of the names of the most prominent stars visible from Earth, although some stars were more simply named for their basic characteristics.
- Aldebaran - ancient term, "the follower", for its motion
- Deneb Kaitos - ancient term, "tail of Cetus (constellation)"
- Rigil Kentaurus - ancient term, "foot of the Centaur (constellation)"
On Earth, early star names simply described their places in constellations with approximate names based on the subject of the constellation or asterism. The rise of science gave new designations, still based on constellations, with numbers and letters assigned on the basis of the stars visibility and perceived importance. These scientific designation tended to use the genitive form of the constellation name based on ancient Greek and Roman terms.
- Alpha Centauri - Greek language lettered star, the prominent star of Centaurus constellation
- Gamma Trianguli - Greek lettered, the 3rd most prominent star of Triangulum constellation
- 14 Eridani - 14th numbered star of Eridanus constellation
- CN Leonis - Lettered star of Leo constellation
- Omicron-2 Eridani - 2nd star behind Omicron Eridani in a line of sight beginning at Earth
- L2 Puppis - 2nd star behind L Puppis in a line of sight beginning at Earth
As observers develop more advanced tools for viewing stars, and counting and measuring them, the number of individual names begin to dwarf the capacity of language, and stars may then be numbered on the basis of various details of their discovery.
- Messier 1 (Crab Nebula, NGC 1952)
- Messier 16 (Eagle Nebula, NGC 6611)
- Messier 20 (Trifid Nebula, NGC 6514)
- Messier 22 (Sagittarius Cluster, NGC 6656)
- Messier 31 (Andromeda Galaxy, NGC 224)
- Messier 32 (NGC 221)
- Messier 33 (Triangulum Galaxy, NGC 598)
- Messier 42 (Orion Nebula, NGC 1976)
- Messier 45 (Pleiades Cluster)
- Messier 57 (Ring Nebula, NGC 6720)
- Messier 80 (NGC 6093)
- Messier 87 (NGC 4486)
- Messier 1138
- NGC 104
- NGC 162
- NGC 221
- NGC 224 (Andromeda Galaxy)
- NGC 321 (Eminiar)
- NGC 400
- NGC 434 (Horatius)
- NGC 598 (Galaxy M33)
- NGC 667
- NGC 863
- NGC 1219
- NGC 1952 (Crab Nebula)
- NGC 1976 (Orion Nebula)
- NGC 2447
- NGC 2812
- NGC 4258
- NGC 4414
- NGC 4447
- NGC 4486
- NGC 5078
- NGC 6093
- NGC 6281
- NGC 6611 (Eagle Nebula)
- NGC 6494 (M23 Cluster)
- NGC 6514 (Trifid Nebula)
- NGC 6656 (Sagittarius Cluster)
- NGC 6720 (Ring Nebula)
- NGC 7201 (Andrews' Star)
- NGC 7332
- NGC 8149
- NGC 8118
- NGC 9835
- NGC 10012
T'Lin's New Catalog
- TNC 65813
- TNC F3459-9-SF-50
- UFC 113
- UFC 512
- UFC 522
- UFC 611 (C-111)
- UFC 611-Beta
- UFC 892
- UFC 8177
- UFC 257704
- UFC 347601
- UFC 465537
- UFC 78856
- UFC 376082
Named for people or groups
A star may be named by or for the person who records its appearance from an astronomical perspective, or it may in turn be named by or for a explorer who visits or claims the phenomena.
Named for region or location
As space travel becomes common, distant catalogued stars may take on new importance as destinations, or points of interest. These stars may be named for the region they are in, with notations similar to constellation names.
- Gamma Hromi, part of Hromi cluster
Multiple stars that exist in the same system are usually lettered in scientific notation, unless they have individual given names that don't require distinction.
- 40 Eridani A and 40 Eridani B - two components of the trinary star, 40 Eridani.
- Epsilon Anubis A and Epsilon Anubis B - the components of the Epsilon Anubis binary star.
- Quindar and Proxima - two components of the Alpha Centauri trinary.
- DS9 - Millennium novel: The War of the Prophets
- TNG novel: Greater Than the Sum
- TOS novel: Challenger
- ST reference: Star Charts
- TAS - Log Eight novelization: The Eye of the Beholder
- TTN novels: Taking Wing, Sword of Damocles
- STO - Vengeance mission: "Turnabout"
- STO - Romulan Mystery mission: "Trapped"
- STO - Borg Advance mission: "Terradome"
- TNG novel: Intellivore
- STO - Borg Advance mission: "Assimilation"
- STO - New Frontiers mission: "Scylla and Charybdis"