Brad Snowder's Blog (160)

Horologium - the clock

The constellation Horologium represents a clock and usually is portrayed as one of the old-timey types. Nicolas Louis de Lacaille created it and drew it as a grandfather hall clock with a pendulum and weights. Lacaille added 14…
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Added by Brad Snowder on May 28, 2017 at 10:30am — 2 Comments

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

Indus - the indian

The source of the name for the constellation Indus is a bit confusing. Many say it celebrates the indigenous tribes of the Americas. But there is some indication it originally referred to tribes in Madagascar. There are also indications it's about the tribes of the East Indies, or…
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Added by Brad Snowder on May 7, 2017 at 1:52am — 1 Comment

Lacerta - the lizard

lizard There is a small constellation near Cassiopeia which looks like her but is a smaller "W" shape. It is Lacerta, which means lizard. It is considered part of the Perseus Group even although there is no lizard in that story. Johannes Hevelius named it in the late 1600's, I guess…
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Added by Brad Snowder on April 30, 2017 at 1:52am — 1 Comment

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

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Blog Posts

Horologium - the clock

Posted by Brad Snowder on May 28, 2017 at 10:30am 2 Comments

Hydra - the water snake

Posted by Brad Snowder on May 21, 2017 at 11:22am 2 Comments

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