Brad Snowder's Blog (155)

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

Mensa - the table

tableboat Mensa means "table." It is also the name of a southern constellation mapped out by Nicolas Louis de Lacaille.



Originally Lacaille meant for this area of the sky to be named "Table Mountain" after a place in Africa near Cape Town. People casually shortened the name…
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Added by Brad Snowder on March 10, 2017 at 8:41am — 1 Comment

Microscopium - the microscope

microscope Having named one southern constellation after a telescope, Lacaille named another after the microscope. The two star groups are beside each other. It seemed only right since each of these inventions expanded our level of consciousness by orders of magnitude, albeit in opposite…
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Added by Brad Snowder on February 25, 2017 at 2:33pm — 1 Comment

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

Ophiuchus - the serpent bearer

You gotta be crazy, taking on a big bruiser like him. The constellation of Ophiuchus represents a big guy who figured out how to kill snakes and then bring them back to life. He figured if it worked on snakes it should work on humans too. The gods killed him of course, because…
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Added by Brad Snowder on January 21, 2017 at 6:29pm — 5 Comments

Orion - the hunter

orioneer After the Big Dipper, Orion is easily the most known and the most pointed out constellation by the people who recognize at least some of them. There is the obvious belt, although Orion lived BP (Before Pants) so he wears a short skirt, or kilt or such, and below that hangs his…
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Added by Brad Snowder on January 14, 2017 at 12:49pm — No Comments

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

Pegasus - the winged horse

tattoo_win2 One of the bigger autumn constellations is in the Perseus group, Pegasus. It's just the front half of a horse, and the wings of course. These figures in the sky are not always the whole figure, sometimes it's half. It's good that they chose to use the front half of the horse…
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Added by Brad Snowder on January 1, 2017 at 12:47pm — 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

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