How do you pronounce “Vega”? “Canis Major”?

Vega and surroundings
Vega shines bright in this image of the Lyra constellation by Akira Fujii.

In 1941 the American Astronomical Society formed a committee of Samuel G. Barton, George A. Davis Jr., and Daniel J. McHugh to consult with astronomers, educators, Arabic scholars, and planetarium lecturers and come up with a list of preferred pronunciations for common star names and constellations. Their final report, adopted by the AAS, appeared in Sky & Telescope for June 1943, page 12.

“In the absence of a definite reason to the contrary,the committee has sought to give to the names pronunciations which are as natural as possible to English-speaking persons,” they wrote. They decided that Vega should be pronounced VEE-guh,and Canis Major as KAY-niss MAY-jer.

An informal survey around our present-day office reveals a mixed verdict, however. Of 13 Sky & Telescope staff members polled, seven prefer VAY-guh, and five say KAN-iss (where the stressed syllable rhymes with “pan ”).

See our guide to constellation names and pronunciation for more information.

— Tony Flanders


Image of John Borden

John Borden

February 25, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Very helpful.
But I'd also like to see a guide for the pronunciation of STARS NAMES. Thanks!

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