Brad Snowder's Blog (135)

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

Piscis Austrinus - the southern fish

zatarains The autumn sky includes the constellation of Piscis Austrinus, which is currently distinguished from neighboring Pisces Not-Austrinus with the convenient moniker Austrinus which means "Southern." At one time many folks referred to these stars as being "The Great Fish" as…
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Added by Brad Snowder on November 27, 2016 at 12:40am — No Comments

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

Pyxis - the compass box

130277 Pyxis is a constellation in the southern sky that honors the mariner's compass. Short of the Internet itself, few things have shrunk our world like a free-floating magnetized needle.



The constellation is basically just three stars in a line…
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Added by Brad Snowder on November 12, 2016 at 2:02pm — No Comments

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

Sagitta - the arrow

sge_03 Sagitta is a tiny constellation whose dots actually connect to make an arrow, complete with fletching feathers. It's one of the older names for a group of stars but then the bow and arrow as a weapon goes way back, probably invented more than 60,000 years ago. So the constellation…
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Added by Brad Snowder on October 29, 2016 at 6:57pm — 2 Comments

Sagittarius - the archer

sgr_03 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 name…
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Added by Brad Snowder on October 22, 2016 at 4:10pm — 2 Comments

Scorpius - the scorpion

scorpie 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on October 16, 2016 at 1:54am — No Comments

Sculptor - the sculptor's studio



workshop 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on October 9, 2016 at 11:12am — 2 Comments

Scutum - the shield



shieldboy 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on October 2, 2016 at 12:23pm — No Comments

Serpens - the serpent





tinysnake_01 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on September 25, 2016 at 11:27am — No Comments

Sextans - the sextant

coord_altaz 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on September 18, 2016 at 4:10pm — 3 Comments

Taurus - the bull

babalooey The constellation Taurus is one of the oldest and most famous of the sky-critters. There are indications that folks associated these stars with a bull all the way back to the copper age, which is really just the bronze age before the upgrade. But great starlore doesn't…
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Added by Brad Snowder on September 11, 2016 at 12:31am — 2 Comments

Telescopium - the telescope

Brad's Jeep and Meade Nick Lacaille named a constellation Telescopium in order to honor a specific telescope, the one at the Paris Observatory. But then the heavenly borders got all rearranged and they had to cut off the top of the scope as Nick had drawn it. So as a result they had to use…
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Added by Brad Snowder on September 4, 2016 at 1:00pm — 3 Comments

Triangulum - the triangle

illuminiwhati 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on August 27, 2016 at 9:58pm — No Comments

Triangulum Australe - the southern triangle

trianglelady 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on August 21, 2016 at 12:14pm — 6 Comments

Tucana - the toucan

toucanasam The southern constellation of Tucana was named after a colorful South American bird in the late sixteenth century by Petrus Plancius. It is small but important. It contains some of our best examples of cosmic real estate, a dwarf galaxy and a globular cluster, both orbiting the Milky Way.…
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Added by Brad Snowder on August 13, 2016 at 11:10pm — 4 Comments

Ursa Major - the great bear

biggerbear 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…
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Added by Brad Snowder on August 7, 2016 at 12:21pm — 2 Comments

Ursa Minor - the little bear

lilbear Ursa Minor, the lesser bear, is a very important constellation because it is home to Polaris, the north star. It is also home to the Little Dipper which is very easy to find once you've actually found it. If you don't see it right away just nod and say "Yeah. yeah I see it" but…
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Added by Brad Snowder on July 31, 2016 at 12:32pm — 3 Comments

Vela - the sails

CatamaranSails Way down there near the south pole there is a constellation named Vela, the sails.



The sails use to be part of a bigger constellation called Argo Navis which included the whole ship. That's how it was 2000 years ago when Ptolemy…
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Added by Brad Snowder on July 24, 2016 at 11:00am — 4 Comments

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