All Blog Posts Tagged 'constellation' (34)

Hydra - the water snake

The largest of all 88 constellations is called Hydra, the water snake. It's huge. It forms a line that wraps around the sky all the way from the stars of Cancer to those of Libra. If you go out and see the toothy business end just starting to rise in the east, you will wait…
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Added by Brad Snowder on May 21, 2017 at 11:22am — 2 Comments

Hydrus - the male water snake

watersnake There is a southern constellation called Hydrus which is not to be confused with the constellation Hydra. They are both water snakes but Hydrus it the lesser water snake in both size and mythical importance, and also it is male. Having two slithering sky serpents confirms…
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Added by Brad Snowder on May 13, 2017 at 6:52pm — No Comments

Leo - the lion

lioncut The constellation Leo shows up in the early spring, when frogs wake up, the crocuses start blooming, and pudgy old guys begin meandering around Lowes in cargo shorts and birkenstocks. These stars dominate the spring sky the way Orion dominates the winter. In the weeks before the…
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Added by Brad Snowder on April 23, 2017 at 1:25am — 2 Comments

Leo Minor - the smaller lion

leominor_01 There is a constellation called Leo Minor that represents a lesser lion, just north of regular Leo. Johannes Hevelius added it in 1687. He sort of squeezed it in between Leo and the Big Dipper where there was a bit of unoccupied interstitial space. It's like how Idaho was…
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Added by Brad Snowder on April 16, 2017 at 12:33am — No Comments

Lepus - the hare

hare_01 Lepus is a constellation that represents a hare, which is basically a rabbit with longer legs and ears. It's located right beneath Orion, dangerously close to being stepped on, and dangerously close to his two dogs. The brightest star in Lepus…
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Added by Brad Snowder on April 8, 2017 at 1:09pm — No Comments

Libra – the scales

lib The constellation of Libra represents a set of scales and it is by far the newest of the zodiacal membership. It may seem odd that there is a machine for weighing stuff in the weird line-up of monsters and zoo critters. On the other hand its two brightest stars have my most favorite…
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Added by Brad Snowder on April 1, 2017 at 1:08pm — 1 Comment

Lupus - the wolf

bigbadwolf The constellation Lupus is way down south. It was even recognized as the wolf by Claudius Ptolemy a couple of thousand years ago, which is notable because Ptolemy was mostly concerned with the stuff more to the north. On the other hand the stars in this area are near Centaurus…
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Added by Brad Snowder on March 25, 2017 at 2:34pm — 3 Comments

Lynx - the lynx

lynx The constellation Lynx is one of a few that is its own translation. It means "lynx" so no fancy steps are required to explain it. In the late 1600's Johannes Hevelius named it after the wild cat because those animals have eyesight good enough to see the stars here and humans don't…
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Added by Brad Snowder on March 18, 2017 at 11:17pm — 1 Comment

Lyra - the lyre

orph_02 High in the summer sky you'll find Lyra, the lyre, which is a small harp-like musical instrument. On some old-timey maps it is depicted as a eagle, or sometimes a vulture, with a small lyre in its mouth. Clearly this one was designed by an astronomy club committee. …

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Added by Brad Snowder on March 11, 2017 at 9:19am — 3 Comments

Monoceros - the unicorn

yaayimaunicorn The constellation Monoceros was invented to fill in a big gap in the winter sky. The ancient star watchers don't seem to have been overly concerned about the sky in a cartographical sense, so they recognized Orion and Hydra and associated them with mythical stories, but…
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Added by Brad Snowder on February 18, 2017 at 5:45pm — No Comments

Musca - the fly

guitarfly The southern constellation of Musca represents a lowly fly. When Johann Bayer added it to his maps he called it "The Bee" and folks liked that name for a couple of hundred years. But then some map maker called it The Fly except there was already a fly up north which was part of…
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Added by Brad Snowder on February 11, 2017 at 8:49pm — 1 Comment

Norma - the carpenter's square

square Norma is a southern constellation and the name refers to the thingy a carpenter uses to make stuff look normal. It's a good example of how the name for a group of stars can rapidly evolve. It was first named by a French guy, Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, who called it "l’Equerre et…
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Added by Brad Snowder on February 4, 2017 at 3:31pm — No Comments

Octans - the octant

octant The southernmost constellation in the whole sky, Octans, is named after a celestial navigation instrument called an octant, which is better than a quadrant, but not as good as a sextant, and no where as good as GPS. Isaac Newton invented the…
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Added by Brad Snowder on January 29, 2017 at 10:10am — 1 Comment

Pavo - the peacock

headdress There is a constellation way down in the southern part of the sky named Pavo which means Peacock, and its brightest star is named Peacock. Coincidence? Are there really any coincidences? Twenty four hours in a day, twenty four beers in a case. Okay that one maybe. Although…
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Added by Brad Snowder on January 7, 2017 at 1:13pm — No Comments

Perseus - the hero

perseus_02 The story behind the constellations of Perseus and those of his group is an ancient tale that is usually told from the perspective of the hero himself. It's his patriarchal privilege.

There were two brothers, Acrisius and Proetus, who always…
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Added by Brad Snowder on December 24, 2016 at 5:16pm — No Comments

Phoenix - the mythical bird

fawkes Most constellations are a Latin word that translates to some generic thing. But a few are their own translation such as a specific person's name. The Phoenix is a unique mythical bird that is pretty much only known as Phoenix, the bird that's hard to get rid of. As we all learned…
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Added by Brad Snowder on December 18, 2016 at 11:39am — 3 Comments

Pictor - the painter's easel

puppyvangogh Pictor is part of the Lacaille Group, the handful of constellations named after a bunch of 18th century stuff by a 18th century French guy. In this case it is the easel which held the artist's canvas in the days before Photoshop. Fun fact, the word "easel" is the old german…
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Added by Brad Snowder on December 11, 2016 at 10:07am — 6 Comments

Pisces - the fishes

gofish The Autumn constellation of Pisces is a good example of how a group of stars can get a name without being a connect-the-dots sort of thing. It appears to have been started in ancient Mesopotamia by astronomers in the easternmost region of the fertile crescent, or in biblical…
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Added by Brad Snowder on December 3, 2016 at 2:07pm — 1 Comment

Puppis - the stern

poopdeck2 The constellation Puppis is part of a whole group of constellations that represents various parts of the good ship Argo, made famous by its crew, Jason and the Argonauts. These particular stars are the ass end of that ship, i.e. the poop deck. …



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Added by Brad Snowder on November 20, 2016 at 12:47pm — 1 Comment

Reticulum - the net

eyepiece2 The stars in the constellation Reticulum represent the tiny network of lines in a certain type of telescope eyepiece. They are usually etched into a lens element and are akin to the cross-hairs in a rifle scope. In this case they are not only used for aiming, but also for…
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Added by Brad Snowder on November 5, 2016 at 11:01pm — 1 Comment

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