Hevelius’s depiction of Lacerta

Lacerta, also given the alternative title Stellio, depicted in the Firmamentum Sobiescianum star atlas of Johannes Hevelius, published posthumously in 1690. As he acknowledged in the introduction to the atlas, the lizard is squeezed into such a narrow gap between existing constellations that no larger animal could fit there.

Above Lacerta’s head on this chart is a triangle of stars which mark the end of an ornamental plume extending from the imperial turban of Cepheus. These were later incorporated into Lacerta by the English astronomer John Flamsteed in his Catalogus Britannicus of 1725, thereby enlarging and extending the lizard’s head and forequarters; however, this catalogue extension was not shown on the charts in Flamsteed’s accompanying Atlas Coelestis, which depicted the lizard much as Hevelius had done.

The current constellation’s two brightest stars, later labelled Alpha and Beta Lacertae by the British astronomer Francis Baily in his British Association Catalogue of 1845, were members of this trio added by Flamsteed.

As on all Hevelius’s charts, the constellation is drawn as though seen on a celestial globe, so left and right are reversed from the way they appear in the sky.

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Lacerta on Hevelius's Firmamentum Sobiescianum star atlas