Brad Snowder's Blog (147)

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

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

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