John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 1989 January 1 
[This article was never previously published, being only handwritten 
on paper. It was recovered in 2011 August, finished, and placed into 
the NYSkies website. The date is nominally 1989 January 1 based on 
internal clues and association with other materials. Altho in some 
cases the information is obsolete, I left the timeframe as is, with 
only minor clean up and fix up. 
    [In the 1980s I worked a Sinclair home computer that produced 
crude, yet effective, graphic printouts. The ones noted here are 
starmaps done in skyscape mode, one panel for each cardinal direction 
plus one for the zenith.] 
    When I travel I compile starmaps on my computer. The program plots 
only the stars, symbolized according to brightness, but does not label 
them or even draw the constellation catch-figures. I letter in the 
names myself on the printed charts. Since the charts are small, 90mm x 
60mm per panel, this required a careful steady hand. Sometimes I would 
contract a starname like 'Zubenes' to stand for Zubeneschemali. 
    Later i came onto an idea. Constellations have fixed and standard 
3-letter abbreviations (3LA), typicly made from the initial three 
letters of their full names. Conflicts among constellations with the 
same three first letters are resolved by compounding their 3LAs from 
the first letter and any two others in the name. 
    There being but 88 official constellations it was easy to define 
unique 3LAs and set them up as regulation abbreviations for all 
astronomers to use. (There is also a set of 4-letter codes but they 
fell into disuse decades ago.) 
    To ease the task of lettering my starmaps could there not be 
elaborated a set of 3LAs for starnames? Offhand I thought not. There 
are hundreds of starnames. Many stars have aliases. Many names have 
erratic spelling. I believed that any 3LA scheme would quickly unravel 
into a hard-to-remember gibberish much like the 3LAs for airports. 
    Despite my first impressions I played around with the customary 
list of starnames and hit on a remarkable discovery. Among the common, 
only routinely used, starnames there are very few conflicts in their 
initial three letters!  What conflicts there are could be trivially 
    OK, of the five or six hundred proper names for stars, only about 
100 are in general circulation, mainly those for stars of 2-1/2 
magnitude and brighter, plus selected dimmer stars like Thuban and 
Alcor. Next, surprisingly few stars have strong aliases. Deneb has 
Arided as an alternative but I rarely heard it used outside of 
historical discussions.
    A few stars seem to have traded one alias for an other. Mirfak is 
alpha Persei nowadays but I grew u knowing it as Algenib. Somewhere 
around 1965 Benetnash, eta Ursae Majoris, went to Mexico and came back 
as Alkaid. 
    Only a couple stars have equivalent aliases like Alphecca/Gemma, 
and Diphda/Baten Kaitos. All in all, tho, there is a single name for 
each star. 
    Spellings can be quite erratic, being that the original Arabic 
names aren't consistently translitterated. So we have things like 
Almach/Alamk/Alamak/Almaak, all for gamma Andromedae. Even so, I found 
a surprising consensus for a one dominant selling. Gamma Andromedae is 
Almach, period. 
    The result of all of the above is that among the brighter stars, 
the ones whose proper names are in common circulation, there is 
normally only one proper name for each. 
    So I tabulated these and lo! Among the first three letters there 
were rather few duplications! That is, a scheme of 3LAs naturally 
falls out. What duplications did occur I could remove by obvious, 
almost trivial, selection of other letters in the star's name or by 
dropping the 'al' prefix, which in many cases is pretty much optional. 
    In my compilation of names I discovered an other most curious 
phaenomenon: 3LAs for the solar system! That's right, the 3LAs for the 
planets, four charter asteroids, Sun and Moon, blend into the 3LA 
scheme for stars. 
    What's more I came upon a list of proper names for the brighter 
naked-eye clusters and nebulae. No, not the 'Andromeda galaxy' type of 
name.but real cute Latin ones resembling starnames. Did you ever see 
Vortex? Well, frankly, I don't think that moniker for M31 will ever 
catch on. However for completeness's sake i include these names in  my 
tabulation and, guess what?, 
    Bingo! The 3LAs for these clusters and nebulae meld handily into 
the starname scheme. Hence, if these strange proper names ever do come 
into wide use, their 3LAs will be already in place. 
    I do have a plea for you. I could not find proper names for delta 
Velorum or epsilon Centauri. I just made up the proper names 'Delvel' 
and 'Epscen' to fill out my tabulation. If you know of bona fide 
proper names for these two stars, please tell me. 
    As you look thru the table you find many 3LAs equal to a 
constellation 3LA. Could there not be a confusion when both appear on 
a map? Nope. Just write the constellation 3LA in all-caps and the star 
one in initial-cap or all-smalls. 
    A final point. There is nothing original in my starname list. It 
is not the result of a scholarly inquiry into the legitimacy or 
validity of starnames. This list is merely a digest of starnames 
already in general usage, how ever they got to be that way. Please, 
then, do not appeal to my tabulation as a prime source for proper 
names of stars. 
 star   full name  3LA | star   full name  3LA | star   full name 3LA
 ------ ---------- --- | ------ ---------- --- | ------ --------- ---
 alpAND Alpheratz  Afz | betCAR Mialacidus Mia | alpAQL Altair    Alt
 betCAS Caph       Caf | iotCAR Tureis     Tur | gamCYG Sadr      Sdr
 alpPHE Ankaa      Ank | alpHYA Alphard    Alf | alpPAV Peacock   Pea
 alpCAS Schedar    Scd | alpLEO Regulus    Rgs | alpCYG Deneb     Dnb
 betCET Diphda     Dif | gamLEO Algeiba    Gba | epsCYG Gienah    Gie
   do   B'n Katios Bkt |
 gamCAS Navi       Nav | betUMA Merak      Mer | alpCEP Alderamin Adm
   do   Cih        Cih |
 betAND Mirach     Mrh | alpUMA Dubhe      Dub | epsPEG Enif      Eni
 alpERI Achernar   Ach | betLEO Denebola   Dba | alpGRU Alnair    Nai
 gamAND Almach     Alm | gamUMA Phecda     Phe | betGRU Dhanab    Dha
 alpARI Hamal      Ham | alpCRU Acrux      Acr | alpPSA Fomalhaut Fom
   do   Alhamal    Ham |                        ---------------------
 omiCET Mira       Mra | gamCRU Gacrux     Gcr | L M C Nub'a Maj  NMA  
 alpUMI Polaris    Plr | gamCEN Muliphain  Mul | S M C Nub'a Min  NMi
 betPER Algol      Alg | betCRU Mimosa     Mim |---------------------
                       |   do   Becrux     Bcr | M31And Vortex    Vor
                                               |   do   Alhut     Hut
 alpPER Mirfak     Mrf | epsUMA Alioth     Ali | chiPER Capulus   Cpl
   do   Algenib    Gnb |                         alpTAU Hyades    Hya  
 alpTAU ALdebaran  Ald | zet UMA Mizar     Miz | etaTAU Pleiades  Ple
 betORI Rigel      Rig | alpVIR Spica      Spi | theORI Ensis     Ens     
 alpAUR Capella    Cap | epsCEN 'Epscen'   Eps | epsCNC Praesepe  Pre 
 gamORI Bellatrix  Bel | etaUMA Alkaid     Alk | etaCAR Foramen   For
                           do   Benetnash  Ben | M 6SCO Aculeus   Acl
 betTAU Nath       Nat | betCEN Hadar      Had | M 7SCO Acumen    Acm 
   do   Elnath     Nat |   do   Agena      Age | M 8SGR Spiculum  Spc
 delORI Mintaka    Mtk | theCEN Menkent    Mkt | --------------------
 epsORI Alnilam    All | alpBOO Arcturus   Arc | Sun    Sol       Sol 
 zetORi Alnitak    Atk | etaCEN Marfak     Mar | Moon   Luna      Lun
 kepORI Saiph      Sai | alpCEN Roliman    Tol | Mercury          Mer
                       |   do   Rigel Ken' Rik | Venus            Ven
 alpORI Betelgeuse Bet | alpLUP Alsuba     Als | Earth  Terra     Ter
 betAUR Menkalinan Mkl | epsBOO Izar       Iza |   do   Geos      Geo 
 betCMA Murzim     Mzm | betUMI Kochab     Koc | Mars             Mar
   do   Mirzam     Mzm | alpCRB Alphecca   Phc | Jupiter          Jup                                         
                       |   do   Gemma      Gem | Saturn           Sat
 gamGEM Alhena     Alh | delSCO Dschubba   Dsc | Uranus           Ura   
 alpCMA Sirius     Sir | alpSCO Antares    Ant | Neptune          Nep
 epsCMA Adhara     Adh | alpTRA Atria      Atr | Pluto            Plu     
 delCMA Wezen      Wez | epsSCO B'alarab   Bkb | Ceres            Cer
 etaCMA Aludra     Alu | etaOPH Sabik      Sab | Pallas           Pal
 alpGEM Castor     Cas | lamSCO Shaula     Sha | Juno             Jun 
 alpCMI Procyon    Pro | alpOPH Easalhague Rah | Vesta            Ves
 betGAM Pollux     Plx | theSCO Sargas     Sar | --------------------
 zetPUP Naos       Nao | kapSCO Girtab     Gir |
 gamVEL Regor      Rgr | gamDRA Eltanim    Elt |
                       |   do   Etamin     Eta | 
 epsCAR Avior      Avi | epsSGR Kaus Aus's Kaa |
 delVEL 'Delvel'   Del | alpLYR Vega       Veg |
 lamVEL Alsuhail   Suh | sigSGR Nunki      Nun |