One of the constellations of the southern sky introduced by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille on his map of 1756 to symbolize experimental physics. He originally called it la Machine Pneumatique but Latinized this to Antlia Pneumatica on the second edition of the map published in 1763. Lacaille depicted it as the single-cylinder type of pump used by the French physicist Denis Papin during the early 1670s for his experiments on vacuums, published as Expériences du Vuide in 1674. In 1675 Papin moved from Paris to London where he worked with the Irish physicist Robert Boyle. Here Papin developed the double-cylinder type of pump, and it is one of these later types of pump that was depicted by Bode his Uranographia (below).

There are no legends associated with this constellation and it contains no bright stars or other objects of note. Its name, however, is one to catch the unwary as it is frequently mis-spelt “Antila”.


The air pump shown as a complex piece of apparatus in the Uranographia of Johann Bode. Compare this with Lacaille’s simple depiction.

© Ian Ridpath. All rights reserved