|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…|
Added by Brad Snowder on February 18, 2017 at 5:45pm — No Comments
|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…|
|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…|
Added by Brad Snowder on February 4, 2017 at 3:31pm — No Comments
|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…|
|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…|
Added by Brad Snowder on January 7, 2017 at 1:13pm — No Comments
| 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…
Added by Brad Snowder on December 24, 2016 at 5:16pm — No Comments
|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…|
|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…|
|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…|
| 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. …
|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…|
| The constellation known as Sagittarius is a centaur. Do not confuse it with Centaurus. We have two centaurs in the sky and this one wants to be associated with the fine sport of archery. So ignore the legs and focus on the bow.
|The summer sky is dominated by a constellation named Scorpius, the scorpion. It has lots of bright stars in a long swooping curved shape like a fish hook. The brightest star in the line-up is a huge red one smack dab in the heart of the beast, named Antares. The scorpion is…|
Added by Brad Snowder on October 16, 2016 at 1:54am — No Comments
|The southern constellation Sculptor represents a sculptor's studio/workshop. It is one of fifteen designated to honor random 18th century crap by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille. When Lacaille got married and his bride said her vows, she…|
|There is a small rectangular region in the summer sky known as Scutum, the shield. It represents a typical shield ranging from the Roman legionnaire sort to one that ye olde knight of chivalry might carry along with so much armor he…|
Added by Brad Snowder on October 2, 2016 at 12:23pm — No Comments
|There is a rather unique constellation in the summer sky called Serpens, the serpent. What makes it special is that it is the only constellation that is divided into two parts. That is, the region of sky assigned to it is not…|
Added by Brad Snowder on September 25, 2016 at 11:27am — No Comments
|There is a small constellation smack dab on the celestial equator called Sextans. Don't worry, it's safe for work, although the sex part might get it snagged by parental filters, I wouldn't know. It's part of a group of constellations named in the 17th century in order to…|
|The constellation Triangulum is one of the few examples where the connect-the-dots thing really does resemble the name. I mean, it makes a pretty damn good triangle without resorting to your imagination. Even the ancient Babylonians couldn't come up with a great name for…|
Added by Brad Snowder on August 27, 2016 at 9:58pm — No Comments
| There's a barely noticed constellation down under called Triangulum Australe, the southern triangle. Connecting three dots to make a triangle is pretty much the minimum effort for making a star group.
The first person to go to all…
| The Greater Bear, Ursa Major, is probably the most significant constellation in the northern sky because it contains the Big Dipper.
The Big Dipper is a thing with a thousand names. It's the most obvious and easiest to recognize of all…