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