The constellation Aquarius, 1603.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration taken from 'Uranometria' (1603) by Johann Bayer, showing the zodiacal constellation of Aquarius (the Waterbearer). German astronomer and lawyer Johann Bayer (1572-1625) invented the system for naming stars using letters from the Greek alphabet, a system still used today for the brighter stars - those visible to the human eye without the aid of a telescope. 'Uranometria' depicts the positions of nearly 1000 stars in addition to those identified by Tycho Brahe. The second sign of the zodiac, Aquarius contains little of great significance in astronomical terms, apart from two globular star clusters and another small group of stars recorded in the catalogue of objects compiled by the Fench astromomer Charles Mesier (1730-1817).